The UK’s Competition and Market Authority has published their provisional conclusion on the proposed merger of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft – and suggested that Call of Duty be separated from the deal.
The government body is currently investigating the $68.7 billion dollar deal, and has raised significant concerns it could create an SLC (Significant Loss of Competition) in the gaming market, particularly when it comes to the massively succesful shooter series.
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The report, published today, says the body has provisionally found, based on its evidence that the deal could “substantially reduce competition” – citing a potential scenario in which MS made Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive.
Doing so, the report reads, “would be to the detriment of gamers—Xbox and PlayStation gamers alike—which could result in higher prices, reduced range, lower quality, worse service, and/or reduced innovation.”
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Alongside the report, the CMA has published a document of possible remedies it has submitted to Microsoft and Activision Blizzard it advises they take under consideration.
These include the “Divestiture of the business associated with Call of Duty” or indeed, the “Diverstiture’ of the Activision or Blizzard sides of the business separately, with Call of Duty staying with the Activision side.
For its part, Microsoft has offered a statement to Video Games Chronicle, reaffirming its promise to keep Call of Duty multiplatform.
“We are committed to offering effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the CMA’s concerns,” said corporate Vice President Rima Alaily.
“Our commitment to grant long term 100% equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Nintendo, Steam and others preserves the deal’s benefits to gamers and developers and increases competition in the market.”
“What does 100% mean? When we say equal, we mean equal. 10 years of parity. On content. On pricing. On features. On quality. On playability.”
The CMA is also willing to hear if Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have their own ideas on addressing the issues within the potential sale – so for now, the negotiations around the deal will continue on.
It’s now been more than a full calendar year since the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard was first announced.
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