28 February 2024

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Microsoft

Blizzard’s Streaming Rights Move for Microsoft Deal Review

Activision In a new effort to get the UK Competition and Markets Authority to approve its $69 billion sale to Microsoft, Blizzard wants to transfer its streaming rights to Ubisoft Entertainment.

Activision stock was up 1.1%, while Microsoft stock was up 0.7%, as of midday New York time. Ubisoft stock finished 8.8% higher after being listed in Paris. On the STOXX 600 index for all of Europe, Ubisoft saw the greatest increase.

The largest gaming contract ever announced by Microsoft was halted by the UK Competition and Markets Authority in January 2022. The US computer giant would have too much power over the developing cloud gaming business, worried the British anti-trust authority.

Ubisoft’s Involvement in Activision Streaming Rights – Microsoft Deal Under Scrutiny

Microsoft said that it will sell the rights to all existing and upcoming Activision games published for the next 15 years to Ubisoft Entertainment SA, in an unusual move, and the Competition and Markets Authority announced that it was reevaluating the Microsoft offer. The CMA stated that the European Economic Area is excluded from the sale.

The transformed deal prohibits Microsoft from releasing Activision titles like “Overwatch” and “Diablo” just on its own cloud streaming service, Xbox Cloud Gaming, or from controlling the licencing conditions for competitor services. The cloud streaming rights to all current Activision PC and console titles as well as any future games the company releases in the next 15 years will instead be purchased by French gaming rival Ubisoft.

That will apply globally but not in Europe, where Brussels had already accepted the original deal. In Europe, Ubisoft will get a non-exclusive licence for Activision’s rights to enable it to offer those games in that region too.

Microsoft said on Tuesday it believed its new proposal was “substantially different” and it expected it to be reviewed by the CMA by Oct. 18.

The CMA said it would examine the new deal under its usual system, with a Phase 1 process ending on Oct. 18. If it still has concerns about the impact on competition, the CMA could open a much longer Phase 2 examination.