UK regulator extends deadline for investigation into Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal

The CMA will now publish the results of its investigation at the end of April, almost two months later than initially planned.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended the deadline for its investigation into Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The CMA is the UK competition regulator that pledged to investigate the deal over concerns the move could harm competition by locking off major franchises such as Call of Duty from rivals like Sony.

Last year, the regulator said the deal could give Microsoft an "unparalleled advantage" in key markets, simultaneously bolstering the Xbox maker's subscription and cloud streaming services while preventing rivals from improving their own offerings by removing access to notable Activision Blizzard properties.

Microsoft rubbished those claims, and said it's actually playing second fiddle to market leader Sony, which it believes has the "clear ability to competitively respond to the deal."

The console maker also said that taking ownership of Call of Duty–or indeed any other Activision Blizzard franchise–won't give it the ability to foreclose its competitors in the games industry. Microsoft, however, also said it will likely offer Call of Duty through Xbox Game Pass at some point (it could, of course, do this while still selling the title on other platforms).

Notably, the company has made proposals that would keep Call of Duty on rival platforms for the next decade, with Nintendo accepting that deal. Sony, however, has yet to accept any of the offers tabled by Microsoft. 

As the debate between some of the industry's biggest players continues, the CMA has now chosen to extend the final deadline for all parties' responses and submissions to its own investigation to March 2023. The CMA previously wanted those responses in by February 2023.

The CMA has also moved the statutory deadline to publish its final report into the potential risks of the deal to April 26, 2023, from March 1, 2023, meaning the entire process has essentially been extended by a couple of months.

You can keep tabs on the CMA's investigation by checking for updates on the UK government website.

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