In September, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said its inquiry into the $68.7 billion merger had officially been expanded to a second phase due to a number of antitrust concerns.
Notably, the CMA is worried about the impact the deal could have on PlayStation’s ability to compete, given that the deal would see Microsoft gain ownership of the Call of Duty series.
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Phase two of the CMA’s investigation has seen it appoint an independent panel to scrutinise the deal in further detail and evaluate if it’s more likely than not to result in a substantial lessening of competition.
If the inquiry group finds that there is an anti-competitive outcome, it must “decide whether action should be taken by it, or by others, to remedy, mitigate or prevent the substantial lessening of competition” and if so, what action should be taken.
Ultimately, the CMA has the authority to block mergers and acquisitions from being completed if what it determines to be appropriate action isn’t taken to address a lessening of competition.
After gathering information, issuing questionnaires, and meeting with the relevant parties over the next few months, it plans to notify them of its provisional findings and possible remedies (if required) in January.
The final deadline for all parties’ responses will be in February, ahead of the publication of the CMA’s final report on March 1.
The acquisition is currently being scrutinised by regulators around the world amid antitrust concerns during a time of increasing consolidation in the gaming industry.
Microsoft officially filed its case for its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard with the European Commission last Friday.
The European competition watchdog has set a provisional deadline of November 8 to clear the deal or choose to enter a second, more detailed investigation phase like the CMA has chosen to do.