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Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal looks set to be approved in Europe
The contentious bid to buy Activision looks one step closer to passing
Microsoft’s contentious acquisition of Activision Blizzard will likely be approved in the EU according to a new report, paving the way for US and UK regulators to sign off on the deal.
Speaking to three people familiar with the matter, Reuters reports that European regulators were won over after Microsoft offered licensing deals to its main industry rivals, guaranteeing to bring Call of Duty and other major Activision Blizzard brands to competitor platforms.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Microsoft-Activision deal
📜 Microsoft may be about to get a major win for its Activision Blizzard deal
✅ The European Commission looks set to approve the merger
🤝 Regulators were satisfied by agreements made with Nintendo and Nvidia
⛔ Sony and the US regulators, however, are still opposed to the deal
It made a binding 10-year deal last month to bring future Call of Duty titles to Nintendo consoles “the same day as Xbox, with full feature and content parity”. Shortly after, it announced another decade-long deal to roll out all future Xbox PC games on GeForce Now, Nvidia’s game streaming service and Xbox Cloud Gaming rival.
The European Commission is scheduled to make a final decision on the deal by April 25, although is not expected to demand Microsoft to sell any of its acquired assets to win approval. By contrast, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority suggested the company might sell the Call of Duty brand, else the deal “could result in higher prices, reduced range, lower quality, [worse] service and/or reduced innovation”.
Reuters reports Microsoft could still need to offer more behavioral remedies to win European support, such as guarantees for its future conduct. In an effort to allay regulator concerns, Microsoft has repeatedly insisted it will not remove the Call of Duty series from PlayStation platforms, but may need to also commit to not reducing the quality or holding back content from its games on Sony’s system.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last year, Microsoft president Brad Smith revealed the company had offered Sony a 10-year contract to keep future Call of Duty games on PlayStation should its acquisition of Activision Blizzard be approved. Sony hasn’t signed the deal, and later reports suggested it had disapproved of a similar promise to put Call of Duty on PS Plus.
Regardless of whether the merger is signed off by the European Commission, it will still face staunch opposition from the US regulator the FTC, which has sued to block the deal. Hearings are due to start in August.
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