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Microsoft to keep ‘Call of Duty’ on PlayStation for 10 more years

Microsoft’s $75 billion takeover of “Call of Duty” publisher Activision Blizzard cleared another key obstacle Monday after a British antitrust appeals court granted its request for more time to reach a resolution with regulators.

The United Kingdom’s Competition Appeal Tribunal approved a two-month pause on Microsoft’s appeal of a move last April by the antitrust watchdog Competition and Markets Authority to block the deal.

Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and the CMA had each requested a two-month pause after the UK antitrust officials signaled they would consider alternate terms that would allow the acquisition to proceed. 

Approval by the CMA is likely all that stands in the way of Microsoft closing the $75 billion deal.

“Based upon the discussion to date, both sides – Microsoft and the CMA – have confidence that Microsoft notifying a restructured transaction is capable of addressing the concerns that the CMA has identified,” said David Bailey, an attorney for the CMA.

Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation for 10 more years.

Microsoft’s lawyer Daniel Beard added that the “The UK is the only impediment to closing (the deal) and speed is of the essence.”

Last April, the CMA became the first major regulator to block the acquisition of the “Call of Duty” maker, citing concerns about the impact on competition in cloud gaming. Microsoft has reportedly signaled it could sell off part of its cloud-gaming business in the UK to help address the concerns, according to Bloomberg.

The pause was granted just days after a federal court shot down the Federal Trade Commission’s request to block the transaction with an injunction on antitrust grounds.

Microsoft is attempting to acquire Activision Blizzard for $75 billion.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

The FTC had argued the Xbox parent would limit rival platforms’ access to “Call of Duty” and other popular franchises if the deal was allowed to proceed.

A federal appeals court also rejected the FTC’s bid to pause the acquisition.

On Sunday, Microsoft announced a long-term “binding agreement” to offer the juggernaut “Call of Duty” video game franchise on its rival Sony’s PlayStation.

The deal’s terms were not disclosed, but a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it will run for 10 years – a move aimed at easing regulators’ concerns that Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard would hurt competition in the video game sector.

Critics have argued Microsoft will stifle video game rivals if the deal proceeds.
AFP via Getty Images

“We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and @PlayStation have signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” Xbox chief Phil Spencer tweeted on Sunday.

“We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games.”

“From Day One of this acquisition, we’ve been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers,” Smith said. “Even after we cross the finish line for this deal’s approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before.”

Microsoft has previously inked a similar 10-year deal to keep “Call of Duty” on Nintendo platforms.

At the time of the deal, which was announced in February, Smith similarly said it was “just part of our commitment to bring Xbox games and Activision titles” to “more players on more platforms.”

With Post wires

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