Microsoft’s potential purchase of Activision-Blizzard continues to be the subject of regulatory scrutiny. This time, the European Commission announced it was launching an “in-depth investigation” into Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of the video game giant.
Prior to this announcement, EU regulators first began looking into the proposed acquisition deal back in September, setting a deadline of November 8th to approve the purchase. Since regulators did not approve the deal by that date, it will now be subject to a more in-depth review by the European Commission, which is expected to take up to 90 working days (March 23rd, 2023) to make an official decision.
“The Commission’s preliminary investigation shows that the transaction may significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games,” reads the official announcement. “In particular, the Commission is concerned that, by acquiring Activision-Blizzard, Microsoft may foreclose access to Activision-Blizzard’s console and PC video games, especially to high-profile and highly successful games (so-called AAA games) such as Call of Duty… In particular, the Commission is concerned that Microsoft may reduce the ability of rival providers of PC operating systems to compete with Microsoft’s operating system, Windows, by combining Activision-Blizzard’s games and Microsoft’s distribution of games via cloud game streaming to Windows. This would discourage users to buy non-Windows PCs.”
As The Verge describes it, the European Commission will likely perform a more thorough analysis of the deal, “especially after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) signaled a closer look at the deal in September.” In response to the CMA’s initial worries, Microsoft claimed that the organization’s concerns were “misplaced,” going so far as to accuse the regulatory body of adopting “Sony’s complaints without considering the potential harm to consumers.”