- Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard has been approved in the EU.
- The decision comes after the deal was blocked by UK regulators weeks ago.
- Microsoft must provide remedies, such as game licenses for the Call of Duty franchise on rival cloud gaming services.
The European Commission will allow Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard to go ahead. The EU will break with the UK’s CMA body, which rejected the deal on the basis of competitiveness within cloud gaming. The approval is conditional, and Microsoft must follow certain criteria and offer specific remedies in order for the deal to be allowed.
#EUMergerControl Commission 🇪🇺 clears acquisition of Activision Blizzard 🎮by Microsoft, subject to conditions 👇
— EU Competition (@EU_Competition) May 15, 2023
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard (‘Activision’) by Microsoft. The approval is conditional on full compliance with the commitments offered by Microsoft. The commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission and represent a significant improvement for cloud gaming as compared to the current situation.” – European Commision
the European Commission’s findings were that Microsoft acquiring Activision-Blizzard “Would not be able to harm rival consoles and rival multi-game subscriptions”. However, like the CMA, the EU was concerned over Microsoft’s strength in cloud gaming, and considered if the deal could further hurt competition in the cloud gaming market.
As a remedy, Microsoft must allow all cloud gaming services in the EU to license the Call of Duty franchise, meaning all cloud gaming services must have Call of Duty. Amazon Luna, Nvidia Geforce Now, and others will likely carry the COD series. This was expected, as Microsoft has already signed 10-year license deals with rival game streaming providers.
The EU also found that Microsoft would have no incentive to block the Call of Duty franchises from being available on Playstation or other consoles. The availability of Call of Duty, one of the largest video game franchises of all time came into question from regulators as Microsoft has a history of acquiring companies and then making franchises exclusive to Xbox, such as Starfield and The Outer Worlds 2.
The deal has yet to be approved in the US by the FTC, and Microsoft must appeal the CMA’s decision in the UK in order to push the deal through in that market. Nevertheless, approval in the EU puts pressure on the UK government to reconsider its decision regarding the deal. The deal has been approved in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, and Chile.
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