The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has given its provisional backing to Microsoft’s revised offer for fellow gaming giant Activision.
Earlier this year the regulator blocked the original version of the tie-up after concluding it would reduce innovation and mean less choice for gamers in the nascent cloud gaming sector.
Following some initial loud complaints from members of its executive team, Microsoft eventually put forward a revised deal which would see the cloud gaming rights to all existing Activision games and any new games released by the firm during the next 15 years sold to rival games publisher Ubisoft.
Ubisoft would be free to supply Activision’s titles to any cloud gaming service provider, including Microsoft, under any terms or business model it wishes. It could also force Microsoft to provide versions of games on operating systems other than Windows.
The CMA has today said the terms of the revised deal “substantially address” its original concerns.
Although it identified some “limited residual” issues with the new deal, the CMA says these have been addressed by further tweaks including undertakings that Ubisoft will be unable to offer Microsoft exclusive access to any Activision titles or on better terms than are available to other parties.
The regulator says these changes now open the door to the deal being cleared, although a final decision is subject to consultation with stakeholders.
Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA, said: “The CMA’s position has been consistent throughout – this merger could only go ahead if competition, innovation, and choice in cloud gaming was preserved.
“In response to our original prohibition, Microsoft has now substantially restructured the deal, taking the necessary steps to address our original concerns.
“It would have been far better, though, if Microsoft had put forward this restructure during our original investigation. This case illustrates the costs, uncertainty and delay that parties can incur if a credible and effective remedy option exists but is not put on the table at the right time.”