Amid worries that Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of “Call of Duty” creator Activision Blizzard would impede cloud gaming, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Wednesday blocked the deal.

The decision came as a surprise as the regulator had already addressed its worries about the console market, which is dwarfed by cloud gaming and dominated by Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.

Microsoft may file an appeal with the independent judicial authority in Britain known as the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), which will only look at the CMA’s decision-making procedure and not the merits of the merger.

At this point, Microsoft is unable to provide fresh solutions, such as promising to exclude Activision content from its Xbox Game Pass, a paid subscription programme for Xbox players, in Britain, as some experts speculate.

According to Edward Lane, senior associate at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis, where his special concentration is on the creative industries, including film, TV, video games, and music, “the CAT will not engage with the merits of the CMA’s decision or conduct a wholesale review of the parties’ evidence.”

Microsoft must file an appeal by May 24; the outcome might take several months.

“The CAT aims to deal with’straightforward’ cases in under nine months — and Microsoft/Activision is anything but straightforward,” Lane added.

The Tribunal will send the case back to the regulator for more examination. Then, Microsoft can make fresh concessions.

According to James Groves, a competition associate at the European law firm Fieldfisher, “the likelihood is that without a material change in circumstances or new evidence, the CMA is most likely to reach the same conclusion as it did initially.”

By May 22, European regulators will have made their decision on the largest gaming deal ever. The American Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint to stop the transaction, and Microsoft has said it will fight the complaint.

It might be game over if one of those objects the agreement, according to Lane.

Microsoft would be facing an uphill struggle if the EU decided against it and might decide to cut its losses, even if that meant paying Activision a hefty $3 billion break fee.

The CMA’s 2021 decision to prevent Meta META.O from acquiring Giphy, viewed as a test case for the British regulator’s resolve to take on “Big Tech,” was appealed by Meta META.O, the owner of Facebook.

Meta won on a single procedural defence, and the decision was upheld on all other grounds. The CMA took into account fresh submissions, but ultimately came to the same conclusion and forced Meta to sell Giphy, an animated image portal.

A 2019 merger between FNZ and rival GBST was halted, but FNZ appealed the decision. The regulator’s probe, which was led by Martin Coleman, who earlier presided over the Microsoft-Activision case, “identified certain potential errors” at that point.

The CMA decided to approve a fresh remedy whereby FNZ might sell GBST and then buy some of it back when the CAT referred the matter back for reconsideration.

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