The CMA claims the deal would harm cloud gaming.
Art showing the potential acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft.

Cloud gaming. Cloud gaming is the reason why the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK voted to block the $69 billion deal that would see Microsoft taking over Activision Blizzard.

The decision didn't come down to concerns over Call of Duty exclusivity or anything that would make some measure of sense. No, it came down to the CMA being concerned that the deal would "undermine new and innovative" competition in the realm of cloud gaming. Microsoft says that they plan to appeal the decision.

Martin Coleman, chair of the group of experts conducting the investigation into the merger issued a statement about the vote.

"Microsoft already enjoys a powerful position and head start over other competitors in cloud gaming and this deal would strengthen that advantage giving it the ability to undermine new and innovative competitors."
The CMA continues to say that the merger could result in higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation for gamers living in the UK. It was only earlier in April that the group narrowed its scope to focus on cloud gaming rather than physical consoles. The CMA says that the deal would bolster Microsoft's already existing advantage in cloud gaming by giving it control over franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. The group feels that by denying this merger Activision would be able to start providing these games on multiple different cloud platforms in the future.

For Microsoft, the appeal might be an even more difficult battle to win than this initial fight.

"Essentially, there has never been a successful appeal in the UK on an antitrust decision," said Aaron Glick, a merger arbitrage strategist at TD Cowen. "There does not appear to be a path forward for Microsoft."
Separate from this decision, The European Commission is expected to issue its own decision on the merger on May 22. In the States, the FTC has a hearing about the merger scheduled for August.