Ubisoft to own Activision Blizzard cloud gaming rights to appease UK CMA

Ubisoft logo with Activision Blizzard titles behindUbisoft/Activision Blizzard

Microsoft have revealed the mergers restructured agreement, in which they plan to sell off Activision Blizzard’s cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft in order to appease the UK CMA.

It’s been a long time since Microsoft announced it was acquiring Activision Blizzard, and despite considerable progress made on a global scale, with approvals from over 40 countries, there’s still a significant journey ahead against the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

During the month of February 2023, both Activision and Microsoft took steps to smooth over the approval process before regulatory bodies like the UK CMA and the US FTC, signing 10-year agreements with various entities, including NVIDIA and Nintendo, to ensure the continued presence of the Call of Duty franchise on their platforms.

After overcoming initial resistance from Sony, successfully reaching an agreement, and prevailing against the FTC in the lawsuit, the UK CMA remains a hurdle.

The CMA is advocating for the protection of the cloud gaming market. To address this, Microsoft revised the initial agreement for acquiring Activision Blizzard, introducing Ubisoft into the equation in an attempt to secure the UK CMA’s approval for the deal.

Microsoft to sell Activision Blizzard cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft

Microsoft have announced their plan to sell Activision Blizzard’s cloud gaming rights, including both current and future games, to Ubisoft. This decision comes as part of a revised agreement for the acquisition of the major gaming publisher, which aims to secure approval from the UK government.

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On August 22, the multinational technology company revealed that they will execute an “agreement that transfers the cloud streaming rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard PC and console games released over the next 15 years to Ubisoft Entertainment SA,” which would take place once the merger is closed.

The main goal of this agreement restructure is, according to Microsoft’s President Brad Smith, to “address the concerns about the impact of the proposed acquisition on cloud game streaming raised by the UK CMA.”

This revised agreement intends to avoid Microsoft from having Activision Blizzard games available exclusively on Xbox Cloud Gaming or retaining sole control over the licensing terms for the titles on competing platforms. Instead, Ubisoft will manage the streaming rights for all Activision Blizzard games, including Call of Duty, outside the EU.

“Ubisoft will compensate Microsoft for the cloud streaming rights to Activision Blizzard’s games through a one-off payment and through a market-based wholesale pricing mechanism, including an option that supports pricing based on usage,” explained Smith, and added: “It will also give Ubisoft the opportunity to offer Activision Blizzard’s games to cloud gaming services running non-Windows operating systems.”

The CMA will now have to review the modified agreement and provide a decision prior to the legal deadline of October 18th. This timeline aligns with the extension of the deal closing date that Microsoft and Activision have previously agreed upon.

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For more on Activision, be sure to check out everything we know so far about their next Call of Duty installment, Modern Warfare 3, scheduled for November 10, 2023, or learn if Call of Duty will be exclusive to Xbox after Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard.