Microsoft, Activision-Blizzard and the future of gaming

The highest-grossing film of the year so far, “Top Gun: Maverick”, took $1bn in its first month. The biggest game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II”, took the same amount in just ten days. Spurred on by the pandemic, which saw video-game spending increase by nearly a quarter in 2020, the games industry will be worth more than $170bn this year in worldwide revenues, some five times as much as the global box office.

Gaming’s ballooning value is attracting the attention of regulators. In January Microsoft, which makes the Xbox console, agreed to buy Activision-Blizzard, the publisher of titles including the “Call of Duty” franchise, for $69bn. It is the biggest acquisition in Microsoft’s history and by far the biggest in that of the games industry. Regulators from 16 territories have investigated the deal. In the past two months Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the European Commission have scrutinised it in detail; America’s Federal Trade…

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