The deal, which would be the biggest gaming acquisition in history at $69 billion if completed, has come under intense scrutiny from regulators worldwide, with competitors arguing that the deal could create an anticompetitive environment.
Microsoft has repeatedly claimed that the primary motivation for the acquisition is Activision Blizzard’s strength on mobile platforms, however many regulators remain unconvinced.
A particular point of contention is the popular Call of Duty franchise, which has historically been available on both Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Although Microsoft has repeatedly stated its intention to publish the franchise across consoles, regulators and competitors alike were unconvinced, and until January the company refused to sign a binding contract confirming the franchise would remain available.
Since then, Microsoft has signed contracts with both Nintendo and Nvidia, pledging to bring the franchise to both Nintendo consoles and Nvidia’s GeForce Now platform. It appears that these concessions have helped ease concerns of EU regulators. While the EU competition enforcer declined to comment, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that these new deals are likely to satisfy one of Microsoft’s major concerns.
Is the deal anticompetitive?
One notable suggestion by the CMA, which was nixed by Microsoft president Brad Smith, was cutting Call of Duty, or even entire parts of Activision Blizzard, out of the deal. However, it appears that Microsoft’s recent actions have done enough to convince the EU that this isn’t necessary.
Despite this progress, the deal has yet to be approved by the European Commission, and still faces scrutiny from regulators elsewhere. The FTC has sued to block the deal, with a court date scheduled for August 8. Additionally, the case is still facing intense scrutiny by the CMA, which would offer no legal recourse such as a trial should it decide to block the deal.
We listed Activision Blizzard as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.