UK government says Microsoft's pushback against its Activision block is "not borne out by the facts"

 Warzone 2 Plunder
Warzone 2 Plunder

The UK government has responded to Microsoft president Brad Smith in defense of its decision to block Xbox's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In case you missed the big news, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority this week prevented Microsoft from purchasing Activision Blizzard on the grounds that the deal would prove anti-competitive in the Cloud gaming market. Microsoft is almost certain to appeal the decision in court, but in the meantime Smith recently had some choice words for the UK regulator, calling its move to block the Activision buyout "bad for Britain."

As Eurogamer reports, Smith said in an interview with the BBC shortly after the CMA's decision went public that it was "probably the darkest day in our four decades in Britain" adding, "It does more than shake our confidence in the future of the opportunity to grow a technology business in Britain than we've ever confronted before."

"There's a clear message here - the European Union is a more attractive place to start a business than the United Kingdom," a visibly enraged Smith said.

In its response to these comments, a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (via Reuters) said the above claims are "not borne out by the facts."

The CMA's decision is Microsoft and Activision's biggest setback yet, though it remains to be seen whether it's the nail in the coffin for the largest video game acquisition in the industry's history. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission in the US is scheduled to begin its final hearings on the case in August, which will likely delay Microsoft's June target to close the deal - and that's assuming Microsoft and Activision win the appeal against the CMA, which is anything but a sure thing.

Of course, for some PlayStation fans, the block on Xbox's Activision merger is cause for celebration.