Microsoft might want to abandon the hope of a speedy merger with Activision Blizzard. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is referring the takeover for an "in-depth" (Phase 2, in CMA lingo) investigation. The regulator is still concerned the buyout could lead to a "substantial lessening" of competition in the country after launching a basic inquiry in July.
The Authority signalled its intention to launch a deeper investigation on September 1st. It gave Microsoft until September 8th to propose acceptable concessions. Microsoft declined, and the CMA stepped up its scrutiny. In a statement to Engadget, Microsoft President Brad Smith said his company was "ready" to work with the CMA and that it wanted people to have "more access to games, not less." You can read the full statement below.
The investigation won't necessarily block the deal. It could significantly delay the proposed union, however, and might demand more compromises on Microsoft's part. With that said, both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard previously said they'll cooperate with regulators. Microsoft gaming lead Phil Spencer said his company would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles, for example. Unless the CMA has strong objections, it may be more a question of when the merger completes than whether it happens at all.
"We’re ready to work with the CMA on next steps and address any of its concerns. Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less."