South African authorities unconditionally approve Activision Blizzard acquisition

Another win for Microsoft despite home-grown struggles

South African authorities unconditionally approve Activision Blizzard acquisition

South Africa’s Competition Tribunal has unconditionally approved the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft.

The anti-trust regulator confirmed that they had approved the deal in a press release that marks another win for Microsoft. However, while it may be winning elsewhere the company is still fighting both the UK’s CMA (Competition & Markets Authority) and the US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in order to push through the deal. But this approval at least means that they’re one step closer, and have even more ammo to argue their case for the remaining two holdouts.

The competition tribunal has yet to publish their reasoning for the approval, however we can likely surmise the reasoning from a similar conclusion made by the Korean Fair Trade Commission. The KFTC said, “The combined market share of games developed and distributed by Microsoft and Blizzard [in Korea] is small, the popularity of Blizzard’s major games in Korea is not as high as overseas, and there are a number of popular game developers that competitors can deal with alternatively, so there is no possibility of foreclosure to exclude competing game service companies.”

Given South Africa has a similar if not smaller market for games compared to Korea, we can assume that similar reasoning will be given by the Competition Tribunal.

Bless the rains down in Africa

The extra weight that has been lent to the acquisition by this approval will hopefully (for Microsoft) sway other remaining regulatory authorities to approve the deal. New Zealand’s regulator for example has delayed their decision to July 17, and after seeing the Competition Tribunal’s decision - and given the decisions in favour made by other authorities - we can reasonably assume they’ll give the deal the go-ahead.

The FTC trial has seen a great deal of drama surrounding it, most notably when a raft of unredacted documents - due to a scanning error - from Sony were accidentally made public with sensitive information. However, the action has mainly focused on subjects such as game streaming and console exclusivity, leaving King, the major mobile force in the Activision Blizzard King triumvirate, in the background.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.