The CMA believes that the deal could harm competitors, specifically chief rival Sony. Specifically the group, as with other regulatory bodies worldwide, believe that Microsoft could make the Call of Duty franchise exclusive to Xbox consoles, stating in October that “financial modelling of the merger suggests that the merged entity’s incentive to foreclose Sony may be considerably stronger than suggested by the parties.” This comes despite Microsoft's continued claims that the deal is primarily due to Activision Blizzard's strength on mobile devices.
The group was previously due to conclude its investigation by March 1, 2023, with the new deadline being April 26. Despite this, the group “aims to complete the inquiry as soon as possible and in advance of this date.”
According to the new timetable, the CMA held hearings with the involved parties throughout January, and requested submissions and responses from others. This will continue through early January as the board continues to gather evidence and opinions.
The group also reported last month that 75 percent of 2600 public responses were in favour of the acquisition, signifying that members of the public believe that it would be a good thing for the industry.
How will the investigation proceed?
The group will notify involved parties of provisional findings and possible solutions by the middle of February, and any further hearings will be held by the middle of March. Involved parties can also submit any evidence or comments by March, prior to the publication of the final report.
Although the deal is facing scrutiny in a number of territories, with the FTC notably suing to block its completion, it has been approved by several governments worldwide.
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