The European Union’s antitrust watchdog approved Microsoft’s planned $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, giving the two companies a win after the deal hit a regulatory roadblock the U.K., The Wall Street Journal reported.
The European Commission, the bloc’s competition enforcer, said it cleared the deal based on commitments by Microsoft to make Activision’s games, including those from its popular Call of Duty franchise, available on rival cloud-streaming platforms.
The companies still need approval from other major competition authorities to close the transaction, legal experts say.
The commission’s decision comes weeks after the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority rejected the merger, saying it would crimp competition in the country’s games market. Microsoft has said it would appeal that decision, Monday’s approval in Brussels won’t have any direct legal bearing on that process, and antitrust lawyers say Microsoft faces long odds in overturning the British decision.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has sued Microsoft to block the deal and scheduled a hearing for the case in its administrative court for August. Still, the EU’s decision means Microsoft has cleared at least one of the three biggest regulatory hurdles that it had faced in pursuing the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.
TechCrunch reported that Microsoft’s proposed remedies, which include the promise to allow all consumers in the European Economic Area (EEA) to stream all current and future Activision games via any cloud-based game streaming service for the next 10 year.
According to TechCrunch, the EC’s decision follows a couple of months after Japan approved the deal, though Europe has made it clear that it intends to implement checks on how Microsoft’s actions impact rival gaming companies in the future. It said that an “independent trustee” will be in charge of monitoring Microsoft’s implementation of its commitments.
TechCrunch also reported that the U.K.’s competition regulars was always going to be in the spotlight if the EC’s decision differed to greatly from its own. Shortly after the outcome was revealed, the CMA took to Twitter to confirm that it would be standing by its own decision, stating that the EC had effectively allowed Microsoft to call all the shots in the cloud gaming market for the next decade.
CNBC reported that the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said that Microsoft offered remedies in the nascent area of cloud gaming that have staved off antitrust concerns. These remedies centered on allowing users to stream Activision games they purchase on any cloud streaming platform.
According to CNBC, regulators globally have been probing whether Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision could distort competition in the console and cloud gaming market. One area regulators questioned is whether Microsoft might take Activision games and keep them excessively on the U.S.giant’s own platforms.
Despite the EU approval, CNBC reported, Microsoft faces a tough task of convincing rivals such as Sony and other regulators, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, that the Activision takeover will not harm competition.
Personally, I want the Microsoft acquisition of Activision to go through. Based on everything I’ve read, the acquisition would be good for gamers because it will enable them to play Activision Blizzard games though their PCs and consoles. The more access to games, the better for the gaming community!