Call of Duty maker Activision to be bought by Microsoft in £57 billion deal

FILE - An image from Activision's Call of Duty is shown on a smartphone near a photograph of the Microsoft logo in this photo taken in New York, June 15, 2023. Microsoft’s purchase of video game maker Activision Blizzard won final approval Friday, Oct. 13, from Britain’s competition watchdog, reversing its earlier decision to block the $69 billion deal and removing a last obstacle for one of the largest tech transactions in history. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)
The £56.6 billion takeover marks one of the biggest takeover's in the technology industry. Credit: AP

Microsoft is set to buy Call of Duty maker Activision after the UK's competition watchdog gave the green light, clearing the way for one of the technology sector's biggest takeovers.

It puts an end to a half-year long battle with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which moved to block the deal in April.

Xbox owner Microsoft made a concession in August, allowing Ubisoft - creator of the Assassin's Creed video game series - to buy Activision's cloud gaming rights instead.

This, the CMA said, "made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market" - clearing the way for a new deal initially worth $69 billion (£56.6 billion).

"The new deal will stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming as this market takes off, preserving competitive prices and services for UK cloud gaming customers," the regulator added.

A man wears a bulletproof vest, mapped in a photogrammetry room for the video game series Call of Duty. Credit: AP

Microsoft was criticised for "dragging out" proceedings during the watchdog's investigation into the merger.

CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell said: "Businesses and their advisors should be in no doubt that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA.

“Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work.

“Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.”

Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, said the group is “grateful” for the decision to approve the acquisition which he believes will “benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide”.

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