Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision takeover could harm gamers, British regulator says

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An Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare video game is inserted into the Microsoft’s Xbox One video game console arranged in Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

Michael Ciaglo | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The British competition regulator said Wednesday that Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard could harm competition in the U.K. gaming market.

In a Wednesday press release, the Competition and Markets Authority stated that the takeover would likely lead to a substantial lessening of competition, resulting in higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation in the sector.

The CMA has sent letters to Microsoft and Activision Blizzard outlining possible remedies to its concerns. The companies have until Feb. 22 to respond. The regulator has not published its proposed remedies publicly.

“We are committed to offering effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the CMA’s concerns,” said Rima Alaily, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, in an emailed statement to CNBC.

“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.”

Microsoft defines “100% equal access” as offering 10 years of parity on content, pricing, features, quality and playability.

Activision Blizzard shares were down 4.6% in U.S. pre-market trading Wednesday, following the CMA announcement.

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