EU approves Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal

Microsoft, Activision

This article was last updated on May 16, 2023

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The European Commission Gives Green Light to Microsoft’s Deal to Acquire Game Publisher

Microsoft has received a significant boost in acquiring game publisher Activision Blizzard as the European Commission (EC) has allowed the deal to proceed. The decision comes after the UK regulator struck out at the ownership change in April—and the US regulator is also reported to be against it.

The investigation

During a preliminary investigation, the committee concluded that the acquisition may lead to unfair competition, especially in game distribution. The regulator launched a more focused investigation, which highlighted the possible negative consequences of cloud gaming. One of the essential elements of cloud gaming is that games can be streamed to any device, such as music or movies, without requiring a powerful gaming computer at home.

The concessions

Microsoft, which owns the Xbox game console, has made some commitments. Under the EC decision, customers in the EU will be able to stream Activision Blizzard’s current and future games on any platform they want, subject to licensing. It also implies that the platforms can offer games to customers within the EU for free. Until 2032, these agreements remain valid.

The regulator says Microsoft’s agreements “completely address” the watchdog’s concerns and constitute a “significant improvement.”

Concerns about Cloud Gaming

According to Martin Coleman, who conducted the UK investigation, “Microsoft already has a powerful position and a competitive advantage in cloud gaming.” The acquisition will strengthen that position, Coleman added.

In response to the UK’s decision, Microsoft president Brad Smith told the BBC that it was Microsoft’s “darkest day” in the company’s four decades of operation in the UK. “The message is clear: the EU is a more desirable place to establish a business than the UK,” he added.

However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sunak has rejected Smith’s claims. The UK and the US still present considerable legal battles for Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

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