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EU Announces In-Depth Investigation of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Deal

Posted November 8, 2022 | Activision | Activision Blizzard | Europe | Games | Microsoft | Windows | Xbox

The European Commission announced today that it was opening an in-depth investigation of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The Commission is following the UK’s CMA footsteps, which also initiated a Phase 2 merger investigation of the $68 billion deal.

“The Commission’s preliminary investigation shows that the transaction may significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multi-game subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems,” the EU Commission said in a press release.

The EU is concerned about 3 specifics aspects of the deal:

  • Microsoft potentially restricting access to Activision Blizzard games on other platforms, or as the EU Commission said, “degrading the terms and conditions for their use of or access to these video games.”
  • Regarding game subscription and cloud gaming services, the EU says that Microsoft could also prevent Activision Blizzard games to be available on subscription services from competitors.
  • Lastly, the EU is worried about leveraging its Activision Blizzard acquisition to reinforce its position in the PC gaming market, and “discourage users to buy non-Windows PCs.”

In a statement shared with Bloomberg, Microsoft said that it will cooperate with the EU Commission to address any “valid” marketplace concerns. “Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation,” the company added.

The EU Commission will share the results of its Phase 2 investigation of the deal on March 23, 2023. Microsoft previously said that it expected the deal to close at the end of its current fiscal year in June 2023, assuming the acquisition gets approved by all regulators across the world.

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