The news: Microsoft’s blockbuster Activision-Blizzard acquisition is facing an antitrust probe from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), per TechCrunch.
The game is afoot: The CMA, the UK’s leading antitrust watchdog, says it has until September 1 to decide if the $68.7 billion gaming consolidation push could harm competition. Specifically, it will decide whether Microsoft could use first-party Activision-Blizzard title exclusives to shut out competing consoles or gaming platforms.
Why this matters for Microsoft: The software giant has managed to stay clear of major antitrust probes for close to 20 years. Prolonged inquiries by the CMA and FTC might affect the company’s reputation, which could damage its value.
Why this matters for Activision-Blizzard: The investigation casts a pall on Activision-Blizzard, which recently saw the formation of the first major video game union in the US and has been under fire for its toxic workplace culture.
The big takeaway: The Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard merger is far from safe.