Microsoft faces antitrust warning from EU over Activision-Blizzard deal
- The European Union is warning Microsoft that its acquisition of Activision Blizzard could face an antitrust investigation.
- Regulators around the world are concerned that Microsoft may make popular Activision games exclusively for Xbox.
- Microsoft is currently engaged with regulators around the world, with the deal approved in some countries.
Microsoft has been warned by EU regulators that it faces an antitrust warning over its $69 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. The EU is preparing a statement of objections to Microsoft, detailing its arguments against the deal. Reuters reports.
Microsoft was expected to make concessions to the EU to avoid the process and shorten the time to close the deal.
For example, one concession that Microsoft recently made was to make future Call of Duty titles available on Nintendo hardware to show regulators that it doesn’t intend to take major ATVI titles from Sony.
Microsoft responded to the warning, telling Reuters, “We continue to work with the European Commission to address any marketplace concerns. Our goal is to bring games to as many people as possible, and this deal will further that goal.“
While Microsoft has been warned of an antitrust investigation, the EU is expected to make a final decision on the deal on April 11, 2023.
A key concern from regulators was the status of major Activision titles, such as Call of Duty, and if they would be available on other platforms after the acquisition. Some regulators were concerned that Microsoft might pull the Call of Duty series from the PlayStation and make it an Xbox exclusive.
Microsoft has made similar moves in the past, such as making Starfield an Xbox exclusive after a long history of Bethesda games being multi-platform. Sony themselves say the deal is unfair and will give Microsoft a big advantage over them. These alleged anti-competitive concerns are what are being scrutinized by regulators.
So far, some countries such as Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Brazil have ratified the agreement. Microsoft faces regulatory hurdles in the US, where the FTC is suing to block the deal, and in the UK, where regulators continue to investigate the acquisition.
Microsoft originally expected to close the deal sometime in June 2023, but that date seems unlikely as regulators investigate the deal.
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