Satya Nadella: 'Wait for it all to play out' when asked about pulling out of the UK over Xbox-ABK deal
What you need to know
- Microsoft is trying to acquire Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion.
- The deal has garnered approval from multiple regulators, including the European Commission, while there is major pushback from U.S. and U.K. regulators.
- When asked in an interview if Microsoft would ever consider "selling the product" in the U.S. and Europe but not the U.K, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said "Let's wait for it all to play out."
As the storied effort of Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard continues and theories fly left and right, we've got some additional commentary from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella regarding the situation.
The approval process for the purchase is a rollercoaster, with many countries like Japan and Brazil approving the deal, while the FTC in the U.S. and the CMA in the U.K. are seeking to stop the acquisition from happening. Microsoft recently got its biggest approval yet, with the European Commission approving the deal with a number of guidelines and requirements in place regarding Cloud gaming.
In an interview with CNBC, when Nadella was asked if there was a future where he could see Microsoft "selling the product" in the U.S. and Europe, but not the U.K, he said "Let's wait for it all to play out."
"The fundamental logic of this deal, bringing more competition and more opportunity for publishers and gamers still holds," Nadella said peaking prior to the European Commission's decision being announced. "We obviously respect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the CMA to decide what's good [for them]."
Microsoft currently plans to appeal the CMA's decision and will be arguing for the purchase against the FTC in court.
The $69 billion acquisition would see Microsoft add Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King to the Xbox first-party roster, including franchises like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Diablo, Warcraft, and many more.
While Microsoft has repeatedly emphasized its desire to keep Call of Duty on all existing platforms and expand it to other players, the company has seen major pushback from Sony, the latter of which has voiced innumerable concerns around Microsoft degrading the quality of Call of Duty specifically on PlayStation.
In more recent weeks, Cloud gaming has been the main talking point while the discussion around PlayStation has largely subsided, with even the CMA narrowing its concerns to no longer include how PlayStation would be affected, though the regulator still chose to block the deal.
Windows Central's take
I am once again tapping my imaginary sign that mentions I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not a legal expert with authority on how things can play out.
That said...I am extremely skeptical Microsoft would ever not offer something in the U.K. I don't know how that works, and it seems like a nuclear, last-resort option regardless of the form it takes. Obviously, Nadella has to keep every option possible and use a non-committal answer for now, but for now, I'm more interested in how the appeal process plays out.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.
What would be needed, and what CNBC was asking, is a total unilateral MS exit from the UK. Which, given Nadella's oh-so-diplomatic reply he did *not* rule out. Nadella is clearly from the "speak softly and carry an AR-15" school of business. 😇
If we carefully read his reply: "The fundamental logic of this deal, bringing more competition and more opportunity for publishers and gamers still holds..." and "We obviously respect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the CMA to decide what's good ."
...he is clearly saying they have the right to choose what they do and Microsoft reserves to itself the same right. Which is to carry the deal through. (They can afford the PR cost after all.)
Less diplomatically, if the UK feels they don't need Microsoft, Microsoft *knows* they can more easily do without the UK than without ABK. No skin off their back.
In THE GODFATHER they called it going to the mattresses.
Plus, XBOX is an also-ran in Japan after two decades+ of Sony practices. MS adding Activision won't hurt Sony except in their minds. They're so used to having the upper hand and exclusives they can't tolerate the idea of feature parity.
The EU read is the right one on this case.