EU Greenlights Microsoft Offer to Purchase Activision Blizzard

European Union regulators have approved Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion purchase of game company Activision Blizzard. The European Commission accepted Microsoft’s remedies for staving off antitrust concerns in the area of cloud gaming. Microsoft said it would guarantee at least 10 years of access to Activision titles on third party cloud services, which satisfied the 27-nation bloc’s executive body. The EU announced its decision just weeks after UK lawmakers blocked the acquisition, and in the U.S. Microsoft is fending off efforts by the Federal Trade Commission to cancel the deal.

Activision has joined Microsoft in fighting back against moves to cancel the megadeal, which would be the biggest consumer tech merger in two decades.

The blockbuster acquisition “has become a test of whether regulators around the world will approve a tech megamerger amid concerns about the industry’s power,” The New York Times reports.

Microsoft makes the popular Xbox console, while software studio Activision Blizzard has such titles as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” in its catalog.

“Microsoft has spent the past few months trying to address regulators’ concerns around cloud gaming, with the deals convincing EU regulators but not the UK,” writes The Verge, adding that “the software giant signed cloud gaming deals with Boosteroid, Ubitus, and Nvidia” to allow Xbox PC games as well as content from Activision Blizzard to run on the rival cloud gaming services.

In December, Microsoft announced a similar deal with Nintendo.

European Union officials concluded Microsoft’s concessions are sufficient because the cloud gaming market is still so small. As a result of Microsoft’s promises, “many Activision titles that are not currently playable on smaller cloud gaming services would now be available, providing a consumer boost for the new technology, the regulators said,” according to NYT.

“These commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the commission and represent a significant improvement for cloud game streaming compared to the current situation,” the European Commission explained in a statement.

“The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services,” said Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft. “This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose.”

The European Commission said the deal would not harm the console market because Microsoft would not have an incentive to deny rivals, such as the Sony PlayStation, access to Activision titles without sacrificing profit.

CNBC called Europe’s green light “a huge win for Microsoft, after the UK’s top competition authority last month blocked the deal.”

Microsoft’s Activision Takeover Approved by EU After UK Veto, BBC News, 5/15/23
What’s Next for the Microsoft-Activision Deal After Receiving EU Approval?, Quartz, 5/16/23

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.