Microsoft, Activision to Sell Cloud Streaming Rights to Ubisoft to Get UK Regulator’s Nod for $69 Billion Deal


“Call of Duty” maker Activision will sell its non-European streaming rights to Ubisoft Entertainment to get the biggest deal yet in video gaming past British regulators, potential owner Microsoft said on Tuesday. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the only regulator to block Microsoft’s $69 billion (roughly Rs. 5,65,480 crore) Activision deal, in a test of its post-Brexit clout.

Microsoft said on Tuesday it believed its new proposal was a “substantially different transaction” and that it expected the CMA review process to be completed before October 18.

The CMA in a statement said the revised transaction would “allow Ubisoft to commercialise these rights to other cloud gaming services providers (including to Microsoft itself)”.

Ubisoft’s shares listed in Paris were up 6.5 percent at 0723 GMT, making them the top gainer on the pan-European STOXX 600 index.

The British regulator in July took the rare step of reopening its investigation into the deal after Microsoft said commitments accepted by the European Union and a new agreement with Sony constituted a material change.

But it said on Tuesday it did not accept Microsoft’s reasoning, forcing the US giant to come back with a new deal to address its concerns over competition in the nascent cloud streaming market.

Under the new terms, Microsoft will not be able to release Activision Blizzard games exclusively on its own cloud streaming service — Xbox Cloud Gaming – or to exclusively control the licensing terms of Activision Blizzard games for rival services.

The new transaction deals with streaming rights outside the European Economic Area, reflecting the fact that Brussels had already approved the deal.

Ubisoft will, however, receive a non-exclusive licence for Activision’s European gaming rights too, enabling the French group to also stream the rights in the EU. 

© Thomson Reuters 2023  

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