Microsoft might have to give up Call of Duty or Activision itself for its deal to close, UK government suggests

Warzone 2
(Image credit: Activision)

Microsoft might have to give up Call of Duty - or the entire Activision part of Activision Blizzard - if it wants to close its pending buyout, according to the latest ruling from the UK's Competition Markets Authority.

The CMA said in no uncertain terms earlier today that it believes Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition would result in less competition. This is not a final ruling, but the CMA doesn't believe the deal should go through in its current form. It does, however, have some ideas in mind for what could change so that the deal could go through.

The first option? Sell Call of Duty. If Microsoft doesn't like that, it could sell off Activision, getting rid of the business responsible for Call of Duty and leaving it with the products of Blizzard and Candy Crush publisher King. Or, if that doesn't sound good, it could sell Activision and Blizzard, seemingly leaving the company with a selection of mega-popular mobile games. In all three cases, Microsoft would not be getting total ownership of Call of Duty.

In more proper legal terms, the CMA wants Microsoft to make a partial divestiture of Activision Blizzard, which would see the Call of Duty wing (and potentially more) spun out into its own separate business or sold to a competitor. This is not unheard of in this sort of major corporate merger. When Disney bought Fox, for example, it was required to divest Fox's regional sports networks to avoid building too much of a monopoly with the ESPN networks the company already owned.

Based on the wording in the CMA's notice of possible remedies, it would prefer Microsoft to make this divestiture, but it's open to the possibility of behavioral remedies instead. In other words, Microsoft might just have to make good on certain promises about how it'll conduct business after the buyout. The CMA is less concrete about what it would want in such a situation, but this kind of remedy would likely require Microsoft to, at a minimum, keep putting Call of Duty on other platforms - a step the company has repeatedly said it's willing to take.

Random gamers are still trying to sue Microsoft over this acquisition, too.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.