Microsoft's $68.7 bln Activision deal faces probe

STORY: Britain's competition regulator said it will refer Microsoft Corp's acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc for an in-depth investigation.

The merger, costing Microsoft $69 billion, is considered the biggest-ever gaming industry deal.

Concerns were raised that Microsoft could use its power over Activision, makers of highly popular “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft”, to harm rivals.

The UK watchdog said competition could be reduced in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services and cloud gaming services.

Both Microsoft and Activision said they will continue to cooperate with the Competition and Markets Authority and have been given a Sept 8. deadline to respond.

Industry leader Sony has voiced concern about the future of "Call of Duty."

However, Microsoft President Brad Smith has confirmed the latest iterations of the video game will still be available on both Xbox and PlayStation on the same day.

Despite the CMA’s concerns, Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick still expects the deal to close in Microsoft’s financial year to June 20, 2023.

Microsoft, makers of the Xbox video console, branded gaming as "the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment."

The tech giant said a thorough review of the deal would boost confidence in its closure, which would be positive for competition.

The deal will add other heavyweight franchises such as "Overwatch” and "Candy Crush" to Microsoft's roster, making it an even more powerful competitor to Sony and Nintendo.