UK government regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced Friday that it has given provisional approval to Microsoft’s proposed $69B USD acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard. On Aug. 22, the agency announced that it would consider a proposal by Microsoft that would see the company divest the cloud streaming rights to all current and future Activision Blizzard titles for the next 15 years to France-based game maker and publisher Ubisoft Entertainment. Concerns over the impact of the deal on cloud-based game streaming were the main reason the CMA rejected the deal earlier this year.
The company said, in part:
“The CMA considers that the restructured deal makes important changes that substantially address the concerns it set out in relation to the original transaction earlier this year.
“In particular, the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft will prevent this important content – including games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft – from coming under the control of Microsoft in relation to cloud gaming. The CMA originally found that Microsoft already has a strong position in cloud gaming services and could have used its control over Activision content to stifle competition and reinforce this position. The new deal instead results in the cloud streaming rights for Activision’s games being transferred to an independent player, Ubisoft, maintaining open competition as the market for cloud gaming develops over the coming years.”
CMA approval is likely the last hurdle for Microsoft in finalizing its deal with Activision Blizzard, as most other jurisdictions have either given approval—or in the case of the Federal Trade Commission in the United States—lost in court.
If the deal does finally get approved by the CMA, it will see esports for multiple titles operating under the Microsoft banner directly or indirectly; this includes Halo, Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft’s regular “World’s First” competitions when new content is released for the long-running MMO.