The long saga of Microsoft buying up Activision Blizzard took another step forward, with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) now consulting on remedies Microsoft put forward to address the CMA's concerns.
Something to be clear on though, is that it has not yet been approved. The CMA simply said that the changes Microsoft put down "opens the door to the deal being cleared". The main concerns from the CMA were on cloud gaming, so under the new plan Ubisoft will have the right to cloud gaming from Activision instead. From the CMA Press Release:
In contrast to the original deal, Microsoft will no longer control cloud gaming rights for Activision’s content, so would not be in a position to limit access to Activision’s key content to its own cloud gaming service or to withhold those games from rivals. Unlike the remedies the CMA previously rejected, Ubisoft will be free to offer Activision’s games both directly to consumers and to all cloud gaming service providers however it chooses, including for buy-to-play or multigame subscription services, or any new model for providing content that might emerge as the market develops. The deal with Ubisoft also requires Microsoft to port Activision games to operating systems other than Windows and support game emulators when requested, addressing the other main shortcoming with the previous remedies package.
When looking into fineprint on the decision, even Proton got mentioned:
Microsoft must port Activision Games to non-Windows OS following a request from Ubisoft. Ubisoft may also request that Microsoft perform technical modifications, including to ensure that the Activision Games support emulators like Proton. Microsoft must carry out this work at its regular pace and at a quality and standard which is customary in the gaming industry. Microsoft can only charge Ubisoft for the reasonable costs incurred for this work. Microsoft is also required to provide Ubisoft with development and porting plans for Activision Games reasonably in advance.
They called Proton an "emulator" though…best not to argue on what exactly Proton is right now.
Why would Ubisoft want Activision games to run well on Proton? Well, that depends who they would license the games to for streaming via cloud gaming (as that's what all this is about). Some cloud gaming providers that end up working with Ubisoft to provide Activision games might run their services on Linux systems.
However, the CMA are not entirely convinced just yet. As they said while it makes "important changes" they still have "limited residual concern" that Ubisoft's streaming rights could be "circumvented, terminated, or not enforced". So Microsoft has again offered remedies to ensure this can be enforced by the CMA.
There's now a consultation going on until October 6th on the proposed remedies so we should hear back sometime around then on the deal finally being approved or not. The final deadline is October 18th.
Microsoft's Brad Smith said on X: "We are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process. We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work toward earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline."
Note: article updated 22/09/23 - 15:23 to include the note on Proton