In a strategic move to assuage the apprehensions of UK regulators, Microsoft has undergone a significant restructuring of its proposed $68.7 billion acquisition deal with Activision Blizzard. The company is transferring cloud gaming rights for both existing and upcoming Activision Blizzard titles to Ubisoft, a move designed to address concerns about potential competition issues in the cloud gaming sector. This reimagined agreement has triggered a fresh regulatory investigation in the UK, with results expected by October 18th.
Acknowledging the concerns raised by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, stated, “To effectively address the concerns about the impact of the proposed acquisition on cloud game streaming, we are modifying the transaction to encompass a narrower scope of rights.” Smith further elaborated, “This entails an agreement, set to take effect upon the merger’s completion, which will transfer cloud streaming rights for all present and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games over the next 15 years to Ubisoft Entertainment SA.”
Under the revamped deal, Microsoft will relinquish its exclusive hold over cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard titles on its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform. Moreover, the control over licensing terms for these games on competing platforms will also shift away from Microsoft. Instead, Ubisoft will gain control over the streaming rights of Activision Blizzard games outside of the European Union. Subsequently, these titles will be licensed back to Microsoft for inclusion in Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Smith outlined the compensation framework, stating, “Ubisoft will compensate Microsoft for the cloud streaming rights to Activision Blizzard’s games through a one-off payment and through a market-based wholesale pricing mechanism, including an option that supports pricing based on usage.” Additionally, Ubisoft will gain the liberty to offer Activision Blizzard titles to cloud gaming services operating on non-Windows operating systems.
In this revised partnership, Ubisoft is set to incorporate Activision Blizzard games into its Ubisoft Plus Multi Access subscription, enriching the offerings available across PC, Xbox, Amazon Luna, and PlayStation via Ubisoft Plus Classics.
Following the initial blockage of Microsoft’s deal in April over cloud gaming concerns, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) embarked on negotiations with the tech giant. Subsequently, the restructured deal sparked a new investigative phase, with a final decision deadline slated for October 18th. This timeline aligns with Microsoft’s extension of the deal closing date with Activision.
The restructuring won’t affect Microsoft’s commitments to the European Commission. The company’s array of cloud gaming deals, along with EU regulators’ approval of the Activision Blizzard deal, includes a provision for consumers in EU countries. They will have the freedom to stream all eligible Activision Blizzard PC and console games through various cloud game streaming services of their choice.
The CMA is poised to assess the revised deal in the forthcoming weeks, with a decision anticipated by the October 18th cutoff. CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell clarified, “Our goal has not changed any future decision on this new deal will ensure that the growing cloud gaming market continues to benefit from open and effective competition driving innovation and choice.”
Discover a World of Enhanced Gaming and Entertainment with JTApps+!