Microsoft's proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition has been approved by EU regulators
A month after the UK blocked the deal
Microsoft’s proposed buyout of Activision Blizzard just received some good news. The European Commission have today approved the $70 billion acquisition, saying that Microsoft’s commitments “represent a significant improvement for cloud gaming.” That’s a markedly different tone to the UK’s conclusion last month, as the British regulator blocked the acquisition over concerns about the cloud market’s future.
Despite months of conversation about Call Of Duty’s potential console exclusivity, the European Commission’s preliminary investigation found that Microsoft “would not be able to harm rival consoles” or subscription services. Instead, their investigations found the deal could “harm competition” in the fledgling cloud gaming market, but unlike the British CMA, Microsoft were able to alleviate the EU’s concerns.
One of the European Commission’s previous findings said that Microsoft could lock future Activision Blizzard King games exclusively to their own cloud streaming services, potentially reducing competition with mega franchises. Microsoft’s remedies included commitments to bring future Activision Blizzard games to several other streaming services.
The European Commission wrote that “these commitments fully address the competition concerns” and “empower millions of EEA consumers to stream Activison’s games using any cloud gaming services operating in the EEA.” The European Commission joins other global regulators including Japan and Brazil, who had previously approved the deal.
Regardless, the already-lengthy saga is about to get even longer. The FTC are currently suing the company to block the deal. Meanwhile, the CMA haven’t changed its stance either. On Twitter, the CMA wrote that “Microsoft’s proposals, accepted by the European Commission today, would allow Microsoft to set the terms and conditions for this market for the next ten years.” The CMA continued: “They would replace a free, open and competitive market with one subject to ongoing regulation of the games Microsoft sells, the platforms to which it sells them, and the conditions of sale.”
Microsoft are preparing to reverse the CMA's decision in court. So, buckle up. There are another few months (at least) of this show.