British officials have launched a deeper antitrust probe into Microsoft’s $68.7 billion purchase of video game giant Activision Blizzard, reflecting fears the deal could lead to less competition.
The second-stage investigation comes after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on September 1 that the acquisition – which would make Microsoft (MSFT) the world’s third-largest video game publisher – posed a risk to markets, including console and cloud. Game.
Under the proposed deal, Microsoft could own popular video game franchises including “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush.”
UK regulators have expressed concern that the acquisition could allow Microsoft to restrict this valuable content from other gaming platforms, particularly Sony’s PlayStation.
“We stand ready to work with the CMA on next steps and address any concerns,” the company said in a statement provided to CNN. “We want people to have more access to games, not less.”
In February, the company launched a charm offensive with regulators around the world, announcing several commitments, including a promise not to give preferential treatment to content it owns on the platforms it manages.
Earlier this month, the CMA gave Microsoft several days to respond to its preliminary findings with proposed solutions. On Sept. 6, Microsoft declined to make such an offer, the CMA announced Thursday, paving the way for a phase two investigation.
Depending on agency practices, this further investigation could result in a decision to clear the deal, impose restrictions or divestments on the acquisition, or block the deal altogether.