The public has been asked for its take on Microsoft’s record-breaking proposed takeover of the gaming giant Activision Blizzard.
The $69bn (£61.8bn) deal was announced back in January, but has come under scrutiny around the world over concerns it would give the Xbox maker an unfair advantage over rivals such as Sony, which makes the PlayStation.
An investigation by the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) was announced in July, and last month the watchdog decided there were enough issues to move the inquiry into a second phase.
It has now invited the public to contribute, saying: “At this point we invite anyone, including members of the public, to share their views with us.”
Sony has been the most vocal critic of the potential takeover, as it is concerned that juggernaut series Call Of Duty could eventually become exclusive to Microsoft platforms.
The first-person shooter franchise is one of the best-selling in video game history, shipping at least 425 million copies since debuting back in 2003, and the latest instalment is tipped to sell best on PlayStation platforms.
Modern Warfare II releases in the UK next Friday, but eager fans who ordered the game in advance can already play through the single-player campaign.
What are the arguments for and against the takeover?
Microsoft announced the all-cash deal – which would be the biggest in the tech industry – as Activision Blizzard grappled with allegations of widespread sexual harassment and other misconduct.
Bobby Kotick, its chief executive, faced calls to quit from staff over his handling of the claims as some were sacked from their jobs, others disciplined and many staged walkouts.
Some viewed the takeover as an opportunity to improve culture and conditions at the company, which also makes popular games like World Of Warcraft, Crash Bandicoot and Overwatch.
Microsoft argues more people will be able to play Activision’s games as a result, as they would be available on its subscription services, allowing players to access them via the cloud across devices including phones.
But Sony, which is the market leader in the console space, is concerned that games popular on its PS5 platform will eventually not be available there.
Microsoft insists it has no intention of making Call Of Duty exclusive for at least several years.
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The deal is also being scrutinised by the US competition watchdog, but has already been approved elsewhere.
The CMA is working to a deadline of March 2023 to publish its final report.
Details on how to contact the CMA’s investigation can be found here.