UK blocks Microsoft’s purchase of World of Warcraft and Candy Crush owner

Just over a year ago we announced that Microsoft had delivered the first big bombshell in the video game industry by acquiring Activision Blizzardthe developer and publisher studio responsible for major titles in the industry such as Call Of Duty, World Of Warcraft either Candy Crush. The transaction was for 68,700 million dollars (60,320 million euros), as announced by the technology giant in a statement.

This was the largest transaction made by the Redmond company in its 47-year history. In the presentation of this operation, Microsoft assured that “will accelerate the growth of the gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and provide building blocks for the metaverse”opening a new window with the intention of combining the traditional online world with virtual and augmented reality, advancing towards a new generation on the Internet.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category of entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” ​​said Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard “will accelerate the growth of Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud, and provide building blocks for the metaverse,” Nadella said.

However, an obstacle has just appeared in the way of Microsoft. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided block acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft.

The United Kingdom halts the operation and accuses it of being detrimental to competition

This was a lock announcedsince the CMA had already advanced in February of this year its intentions to stop the operation when considering it detrimental to competition in the sectorsince Microsoft represents between 60% and 70% of global video game services in the cloud.

According to the British competition authority, the purchase would cause a destabilization in this marketbeing able to set the company higher prices and, in addition, lead to “a reduction in innovation and less choice for players in the United Kingdom in the coming years.”

In addition, the CMA has declared the guarantees offered by Microsoft insufficient, such as its commitment to give access to other platforms to the “Call of Duty” franchise. He has also pointed out the risk that the company, in a clear act of commercial self-benefit, would make Activision Blizzard’s video game sagas exclusive to its cloud service.

As confirmed Brad Smithpresident of Microsoft, the company’s next move will be to appeal the decision of the CMA. For now, one of the arguments put forward against this blockade is that it will discourage innovation and technological investment in the country.

However, as we already know, cases like the one presented to us do not have a quick outcome, so we will have to wait to find out the resolution of the case.

Activision Blizzard and its impact on the world of video games

Activision Blizzard is known within the video game industry as the company behind such blockbusters as Call Of Duty, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush, Diablo, Crash Bandicoot and Overwatch, among many others. Currently, the company has a workforce of about 10,000 employees and in 2020 it obtained revenues of 8,086 million dollars (7,100 million euros) in addition to profits of 2,197 million dollars (1,929 million euros).

But it also has its dark side: the company has recently been in the eye of the hurricane due to a series of complaints by its own employees in which they describe a toxic work environment, with special emphasis on cases of systematic sexual harassment towards the company workers. Bobby Kotick, the CEO of the video game company, had been aware of this tense climate within it without informing the board of directors. Initially, the CEO of Xbox, Phil Spencerhad confirmed Kotick in office, but later decided to step aside, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

This controversy caused Activision Blizzard shares to lose almost half of their value, after settling at $100 per share in February 2021. With Microsoft’s purchase of the company, it was established that Activision Blizzard’s activities they would become directly supervised by Phil Spencer and Xbox.

With the mind in the metaverse

The purchase of Activision Blizzard represents an important step for Microsoft towards the consolidation of its metaverse, of which the digital giant has already built its foundations, although in a field very different from that of video games. Thus, in November 2021 Microsoft presented Mesh for Microsoft Teams, that seeks that all those attending a meeting can be present without doing so physically, through personalized avatars and immersive spaces that can be accessed from any device, without having to resort to special equipment.

Based on its advances in AI, Microsoft will be able to identify the user’s voice and from that recreate speech in animation. Also for 3D as well gestures will be applied when raising your hand and you can use emojis, which drives a more vivid and interactive experience.

In any case, with the acquisition of Blizzard, beyond the fact that the titles created by the more than 30 associated developers will form part of the catalog of xbox game pass (Microsoft’s cloud video game service), the purpose of Microsoft is to ensure that users can immerse themselves in the games themselves and, with the help of the same avatar, access different titles. This own video game ecosystem could become the perfect bait to attract new users to a much more generalist metaverse controlled by Microsoft. In fact, one of the games that happens to be in the hands of Microsoft, world of warcraft, It can be considered an embryonic metaverse, with many of the characteristics of this type of environment (creation of your own avatar, interaction with users of all kinds, free exploration of the maps, relative freedom of management and even the possibility of making transactions between users). ) although completely oriented towards leisure.

“We made deep investments in world-class content, community and cloud to usher in a new era of video games that puts players and creators first and makes games safe, inclusive, and accessible for all,” said Satya Nadella (Microsoft).

For his part, Phil Spencer assured that “gamers all over the world love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe that the creative teams have their best work ahead of them. Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.”

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