Microsoft’s $69bn Activision Blizzard deal will reportedly face EU scrutiny
EU regulators are expected to challenge Microsoft's Activision Blizzard buyout
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Microsoft Activision deal
💥 Microsoft’s buyout of Activision Blizzard might soon hit another snag
⚠️ EU regulators look set to launch an antitrust warning against the deal
📜 Microsoft will have to propose concessions and remedies to get it passed
💪 Although the company is thought to have prepared for this
Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard will reportedly face an antitrust challenge from the European Union.
Speaking to people familiar with the matter, Reuters reports the EU is preparing a statement of objections setting out its concerns about the deal, which will be sent to Microsoft in the coming weeks. The EU antitrust watchdog has until April 11 to confirm whether it will allow the acquisition to go through or challenge the deal.
Microsoft told Reuters: "We're continuing to work with the European Commission to address any marketplace concerns. Our goal is to bring more games to more people, and this deal will further that goal."
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Microsoft was already expected to offer EU regulators concessions to push through the deal and allay their concerns over damages to competition. The company has elsewhere made more public commitments to bring around skeptics, including promising to bring back Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms if it successfully acquires the franchise.
It faces bigger challenges in the US, where the Federal Trade Challenge launched a formal objection when it sued to block the deal last month. Other big gaming tech companies including Nvidia and Google have also now joined Sony in raising concerns about the deal to the FTC. They provided information to support the FTC’s claim that Microsoft would gain an unfair advantage in the cloud, subscription and mobile gaming markets if the buyout passes.
The UK’s CMA has similarly voiced concerns about the deal and is still conducting the second phase of its investigation into its market effects. The watchdog recently revealed, however, that the majority of gamers it sampled in a survey were in favor of the deal.
Regulators and competitor brands worry that Microsoft will make Activision Blizzard’s biggest games exclusive to Xbox platforms. Sony has repeatedly voiced concerns about the future of Call of Duty on PlayStation, although Microsoft has denied it has any plans to outright stop the series from appearing on competitor systems.
Late last year, Activision Blizzard was still confident the deal would pass regulator scrutiny by the middle of 2023, even if it does seem the company has to play dumb to get it passed.