Microsoft warns Activision games could be blocked in the UK

Microsoft warns Activision games could be blocked in the UK
Images via Activision Blizzard

Written by 

Tom Chapman


17th May 2023 13:13

The war of the words continues, and as the Activision Blizzard King deal lumbers on, Microsoft is still hell-bent on putting the gaming giant under the green umbrella. There are sure to be casualties, but in a move no one expected, a whole country could be caught in the crossfire.

More than just Sony opposing the deal of the century, UK Competition and Markets Authority stopped the potential acquisition in its tracks. Now, Microsoft has warned that this could lead to Activision Blizzard games being blocked in the UK.

Could Activision Blizzard games be blocked in the UK?

Making Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive and locking out PlayStation owners is a pretty big deal, but one that seems logical for Microsoft. Annexing a whole country because it voted against you is a whole different kettle of fish. It's not just the CoDverse, but the might of OverwatchWorld of Warcraft, and more.

While it looked like the deal might not go ahead, the EU Commission has waved it through and put the UK in a precarious position. As shared by The Verge, CNBC TV asked Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella whether a workaround would be selling ABK games to the USA and EU while leaving out the UK. 

Imagining a grim future where Brits won't be able to play Call of Duty on any platform, Nadella responded, "Let's wait for it all to play out." Although you'd be fine to boot up your physical copies of Vanguard and Cold War on any console, it means future entries wouldn't be on PlayStation or Xbox.

Hyping the opportunity to bring more opportunities to publishers, Nadella explained, "As far as I'm concerned, we keep going... we have a process, we obviously respect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the CMA to decide what's good in that country."

What's next for the Activision Blizzard deal?

Activision Blizzard games
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All eyes are on the CMA right now, as Eurogamer reports CMA bosses Marcus Bokkerink and Sarah Cardell were grilled by the UK government's Business and Trade Committee over the decision to block the ABK deal. 

The pair were asked whether they'd considered how this might affect the UK's international reputation and why they'd reached a different decision from the European Commission. Bokkerink said, "I would challenge the premise that there is an impact on international confidence on doing business in the UK."

He added that "turning a blind eye to anti-competitive mergers" would be the thing not to inspire confidence in the UK. Both Activision Blizzard bosses and those at the top of Microsoft have called out the CMA, and now, the cracks are starting to show. 

Considering the UK is a massive market for video games, we can't see a world where it's simply locked out of Activision Blizzard franchises. Then again, this worst-case scenario could be a way of applying pressure to try and get the CMA to reverse its decision. 

Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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