Microsoft attempted to acquire an unnamed publisher according to CMA report

by Danny Craig  · 
Microsoft attempted to acquire an unnamed publisher according to CMA report

It has been revealed in the final report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that Microsoft has tried to acquire a mobile game publisher in the past.

The details:

  • According to page 394 of the CMA's report following its decision to block Activision Blizzard's acquisition in the UK, the company had previously attempted to acquire a mobile games publisher, presumably before the Activision Blizzard deal. The report contains no information about when it attempted to acquire the publisher or who the publisher in question was, as it was redacted after its public release.
  • Some speculate that it was Zynga, as Take-Two Interactive announced its acquisition of the publisher just a week before Microsoft announced its Activision Blizzard plans for January 2022. One possible scenario is that both companies wanted to buy Zynga before Microsoft decided it was no longer worthwhile to pursue the publisher. Rovio could also have been the publisher in question, as the company was looking for a buyer before Sega purchased it in April 2023. It's also possible that Microsoft only wanted to buy King, an Activision Blizzard subsidiary, but the company refused to allow the purchase, leading Microsoft to pursue the entire company instead.
  • Activision has "significant strength" in mobile gaming, according to Microsoft, and having mobile titles using its IPs on mobile storefronts would "enhance its competitiveness." However, the CMA claims that instead of acquiring Activision, the tech giant could acquire "attractive content and experience with player engagement and acquisition" by purchasing a mobile publisher.

What is happening with Microsoft and Activision Blizzard?

  • In January 2022, Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard and all of its subsidiaries for a whopping $68.7 billion in cash. The agreement has been met with opposition from Microsoft's rival Sony, which has continued to challenge the move alongside regulators despite Microsoft's efforts to make it clear that its franchises, including Call of Duty, will still come to PlayStation and even offering it a 10-year deal for PlayStation Plus.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was the first regulator to take action against Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in December 2022 to halt the transaction. The FTC cited ZeniMax Media's acquisition as an example of "denying or 'degrading' rivals' access to its popular content," with Starfield and Redfall no longer available on PlayStation. Despite this, Activision Blizzard stated that it would continue to pursue the deal while waiting for responses from the CMA and the European Commission.
  • The CMA announced its decision to block the deal on April 26. The reasoning given did not involve Sony, but rather Microsoft's control of the cloud gaming market, which it claims already owns 60-70% of. Many have criticized the decision, as the company had signed deals with Nvidia, Boostroid, and Ubitus to bring Xbox titles, including those owned by Activision Blizzard, to their respective cloud gaming services.
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