European Commission to investigate Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard takeover

The European Commission is to conduct an “in-depth investigation” into Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of gaming company Activision Blizzard. The EU body started exploring the deal in September, but has now decided a deeper investigation is necessary.

Satya Nadella

Under EU rules, the commission now has 90 working days to research the deal and come up with a final decision on whether to give it the greenlight. That means a ruling by March 23rd. Explaining its rationale, the Commission said it is concerned that the deal “may reduce competition in the markets for the distribution of console and PC games”. It also wants to explore whether Microsoft would be able to restrict distribution of Activision Blizzard games on rival subscriptions or cloud game streaming services.

The EC’s decision is not a huge surprise, following a similar move by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK. The CMA said it is “concerned that Microsoft’s anticipated purchase of Activision Blizzard could substantially lessen competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services, and cloud gaming services.”

Microsoft, which already owns the Xbox brand, announced its proposed deal in January 2022. At the time, Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft, said: “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms. We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible.”

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