Activision Blizzard, the video gaming giant behind “Call of Duty,” which Microsoft is attempting to acquire for $68.7 billion, faces one more obstacle. The planned merger is the subject of a formal inquiry by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. This allows “any interested party” to provide feedback on the probe before the CMA decides whether to launch a phase-2, in-depth investigation into whether the merger violates British antitrust laws and is anticompetitive. The deadline for responses from those parties is September 1.
The merger of the technological giant with the company that creates the Call of Duty video game series will be examined by the Competition and Markets Authority to see if it will hinder competition and result in higher pricing or fewer options. The regulatory body declared that it would collaborate with peers everywhere and gave itself the first deadline of September 1 to decide whether to open a thorough inquiry.
When two or more businesses cease to be different and “either the UK turnover of the acquired business exceeds £70 million, or the two businesses supply/acquire at least 25% of the same goods/services supplied in the UK and the merger increases the share of supply,” the CMA notes that it can assess investigations under its more formal criteria.
Similar guidelines for launching antitrust investigations are in place in the United States, so it is not surprising that the FTC there is also looking at the deal right now. Deals have been known to be scuttled by regulators, who have also been known to set conditions.
The CMA has significantly impacted the commercial development strategies of some major tech companies. It rejected Nvidia’s Arm acquisition but approved Microsoft’s $20 billion purchase of Nuance. Additionally, it is currently looking at Google’s ad tech stack and, at long last, the mobile duopoly in the nation that consists of Apple and Google. Although it made little commotion when Facebook bought WhatsApp a few years ago, it recently ordered the business to sell Giphy. Companies that have downsized their purchases to get around CMA regulatory worries include eBay and Adevinta, which sold off a number of businesses to get its classifieds transaction through.
The CMA has consistently argued for a tougher approach to deal assessment, especially from the largest technology corporations. Regulators are likely to pay particular attention into how Microsoft’s ownership of Activision can hurt competitors by preventing them from playing the company’s most popular games.
The Activision probe by the FTC will concentrate on how Microsoft’s hardware and consoles are integrated with the company’s game portfolio. As a result of claims of sexual harassment and discrimination, Activision employees have sought increased accountability at the firm, and lawmakers have encouraged the FTC to evaluate how the proposed acquisition will affect them carefully.
Microsoft wants Activision so that it can increase the number of exclusive titles it can provide Game Pass users for Xbox systems. Some of the world’s most well-known video game franchises, such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Guitar Hero, Skylanders, Destiny, Crash Bandicoot, and the Tony Hawk skateboarding games, are produced by Activision.Microsoft is, at best, a minor participant in the mobile game market compared to the publisher. The agreement would greatly address this.
Quality assurance testers at Activision division Raven Software, where contracts for some employees had been terminated and what they observed to be unfair treatment by the company, given the stress that this group faces in their daily work, had been on strike for about five weeks when Microsoft’s bid for Activision was first announced in January of this year. It was the first union in a significant gaming company when they decided to unionize in May.
In addition, the company’s workplace culture has been under increasing public and regulatory scrutiny. The California Department of Fair Employment & Housing conducted a two-year inquiry into the business, which employs around 10,000 employees internationally.
To a more clear conclusion, specifics of the business’s HR drama do not fall under the jurisdiction of the antitrust inquiry. Still, they add to the overall picture of a corporation under investigation.