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The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has been compelled to pause its investigation into Apple's restrictions against cloud gaming services, following a complaint from Apple and a disagreement with the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
Back in November, the UK regulator announced it was launching a Phase 2 investigation into whether Apple and Google dominate mobile web browsers in a way that harms competition and innovation. Within that, it said it was also investigating how Apple restricts cloud gaming services through its App Store.
This followed the CMA's Mobile Ecosystem Market Study, which concluded earlier in the year and recommended such an investigation.
According to law firm MacFarlanes, Apple and Google both challenged this investigation before the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The CAT ruled that the CMA has failed to meet the deadlines required to start such an investigation (by December 14, 2021 at the latest).
In its judgment dated March 31, 2023, The CAT therefore ruled that the CMA's decision to start an investigation was ultra vires, i.e. outside its scope of power.
The CMA requested permission to appeal on April 13, but was refused permission on May 3.
Last week, it applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal the CAT's judgment, and is currently waiting for a decision.
In the meantime, it has said it "will not progress the market investigation."
The CMA has previously shown concerns about competition in the cloud gaming space, most notably in its decision to block Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
While the organisation recognised that Microsoft was unlikely to make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox and that its ownership of Activision Blizzard was unlikely to impact competition in the PC and console space, it did express concern that ownership of Activision's portfolio will grant Microsoft dominance in the cloud gaming market.