Ubisoft to stream games for Xbox as Activision acquisition blocked in UK

The CMA has agreed to look at a new deal to enable Microsoft’s buyout of Activision Blizzard and it involves Ubisoft streaming Call Of Duty.

Ever since Microsoft won its court case in the US, things have gone strangely quiet concerning their acquisition of Activision Blizzard. But today the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it’s blocking the original version of the deal, and yet for Microsoft that’s actually good news.

Although the old deal is now dead in the UK (but not anywhere else in the world) an alternative has immediately been announced and, as expected, it involves a separate company handling the Xbox streaming rights in the UK – so that Microsoft can’t get a monopoly.

That company is none other than Ubisoft, who will add Xbox games to their Ubisoft+ service once the deal is confirmed and for the next 15 years. Which means the likes of Call Of Duty and Diablo will only be available to stream in the UK via Ubisoft.

Although the deal is a simple way around the CMA’s concerns Ubisoft will also be allowed to licence any of the games to other cloud gaming and subscription services.

That likely just means that they will continue deals Microsoft has already made with GeForce Now and other more obscure services, that Microsoft teamed up with over the last few months in order to try and prove to monopoly investigators that they’re not trying to control everything themselves.

Although Microsoft tried to paint the CMA as being the only agency to oppose the deal that not only wasn’t true (it was, after all, in the US where they were being sued) but the potential of a streaming monopoly was the main sticking point for other organisations as well.

Microsoft would not have announced the new deal if they didn’t think the CMA would approve it (they even have a public blog all about it) but this means the acquisition still won’t go through until the CMA makes its decision.

If the CMA gives the deal the go ahead then the Activision Blizzard buyout will likely be formalised shortly after. If they still block it then Microsoft will likely go ahead anyway and just leave the UK out – setting up a new subsidiary to sell their games in the UK or licensing to them another company.

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