Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal gets the thumbs up from the European Commission

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft’s $68.2 billion dollar Activision Blizzard acquisition gains approval from the European Commission following a block a few weeks ago from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

According to a press release from the European Commission, Microsoft has been cleared to acquire Activision Blizzard but is subject to a couple of conditions.

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.

The EU acknowledges many of the same complaints, concerns and criticisms as the CMA’s but ultimately, refutes many of the claims as ‘not a harm’ or not having a significantly negative impact on the industry.

The Commission’s in-depth market investigation indicated that Microsoft would not be able to harm rival consoles and rival multi-game subscription services. At the same time, it confirmed that Microsoft could harm competition in the distribution of games via cloud game streaming services and that its position in the market for PC operating systems would be strengthened.

Unlike the CMA, the EU concludes that it didn’t see a reason Microsoft would refuse to distribute games to Sony, nor Activision’s publishing line up joining the cloud gaming sector without the Microsoft deal. “Even without this transaction, Activision would not have made its games available for multi-game subscription services, as this would cannibalize sales of individual games. Therefore, the situation for third-party providers of multi-game subscription services would not change after the acquisition of Activision by Microsoft.”

Ultimately, to gain the approval of the EU, Microsoft seems to have agreed to some proposed remedies from the regulatory body that includes a free license to consumers in the EEA allowing them to steam, via any cloud game streaming service of all current and future ABK titles for which they have a license. Another concession of the deal’s approval includes a corresponding free license to cloud gaming streaming services providers.

Barring any other outstanding considerations, it seems the EU approves of Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard which puts the two companies at a 1 for 2 as they continue to seek approvals from three of the most stringent regulatory commissions globally.

The story is still developing, and Microsoft still has a date with the United States Federal Trade Commission later this summer, but getting the EU’s approval shines a bit of light through the CMA’s cloudy denial a few weeks ago.