It sounds like Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have got a tough task ahead in the UK over the next few months, as the UK Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally decided that Xbox's attempted takeover of ActiBlizz "could result in higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation for UK gamers".
In a report published today on the official UK government website, the CMA claimed that its wide-ranging investigation, which took place over the past five months, discovered that Microsoft's ability to acquire Activision Blizzard would "substantially reduce the competition" in the cloud gaming market moving forward.
It also apparently found that that the potential of some games being made exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem could "substantially reduce the competition between Xbox and PlayStation in the UK, in turn harming UK gamers."
"The CMA provisionally found that buying one of the world’s most important game publishers would reinforce this strong [cloud gaming] position and substantially reduce the competition that Microsoft would otherwise face in the cloud gaming market in the UK."
"The CMA provisionally found that weakening competition by restricting the access that other platforms have to Activision’s games could substantially reduce the competition between Xbox and PlayStation in the UK, in turn harming UK gamers."
This obviously sounds like very bad news for the acquisition, although the CMA has sent the companies "an explanation of how our concerns might be resolved", with a final report set to be issued by April 26th, 2023.
We don't know the full extent of what that "explanation" contains , but there's a fairly substantial "Notice of Possible Remedies" (on the UK government website) which mentions that a "structural remedy" could include taking Call of Duty out of the deal, or even removing Activision and just acquiring Blizzard!
It's worth noting, however, that Microsoft's recent offer to include Call of Duty on PlayStation, Nintendo and Steam for 10 years was not taken into consideration for this report, and will be analysed as part of the "remedies" stage.