Earlier this week, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority announced its decision to block Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard "over concerns the deal would damage competition in the cloud gaming market, leading to less innovation and choice". This is a surprising twist in the tale as last month, the watchdog appeared to walk back concerns it had over the deal, and while it's a big blow to Microsoft, for some PlayStation fans, it's cause for celebration.
Reacting to the news over on the PS5 subreddit, one user wrote, "Amazing news. Glad some agency has the sense to stop monopolistic expansion." Another speculated that "MS is probably in full meltdown mode internally right now," while a third said, "I'm still salty about Bethesda becoming Xbox exclusive so I'm thankful for anything and everything that stands in Microsoft's way of ruining my gaming experiences further."
Many who aren't even huge fans of Sony are also relieved the divisive $69 billion deal has hit a major stumbling block. One said: "I'm a PC gamer and still have my concerns: This merger is clearly a massive market consolidation, bad for competition, bad for the free market, and bad for consumers." Another user replied: "I'm shocked but somewhat relieved about this development. Sony would have had a very difficult time up against an opponent that can casually spend their market value on acquisitions alone."
That being said, it's important to remember that this deal isn't technically dead, nor will its outcome necessarily prevent Microsoft from trying to buy other, smaller studios in the future, and smaller could still mean Bethesda-sized. Following the CMA's ruling, Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a statement that the company remains "fully committed to this acquisition and will appeal."
Some hope that Microsoft will now instead focus on expanding its internal studios and developing new IPs rather than trying to purchase established ones – broadening the market rather than consolidating it. "They need to actually work with their devs and build up a talented team from the inside to make good games vs waiting at the finish line to buy entire companies," argues xD_Alch3my. "It bit them in the a**. Microsoft needs to quit trying to stunt on the gaming industry with their pockets and focus on the devs."
Similarly, averageuhbear commented: "Maybe Microsoft can use a fraction of that money to invest in new studios with creative visions to increase the output of good games in the world instead? Crazy thought."
We've already seen direct proof of how Xbox's support can empower game developers to try new things. In November 2022, Obsidian's Josh Sawyer said its offbeat RPG Pentiment wouldn't have been possible without Game Pass. Obsidian is, of course, a sizable and established studio, but it's still nice to see it experimenting after Microsoft bought the company.
For more on the biggest deal in gaming history, here's the Microsoft Xbox Activision deal explained.