Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal approved by the EU

microsoft eu

The European Commission has waved through Microsoft’s proposed bid to acquire Activision Blizzard, it’s been announced.


Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been approved by the European Commission, the body has formally announced. The decision, made public today (that’s 15 May, date fans), follows a lengthy investigation into how the deal could potentially impact on rival companies and healthy competition.

In its summing up, the Commission writes:

“Microsoft would not be able to harm rival consoles and rival multi-game subscription services. At the same time, it confirmed that Microsoft could harm competition in the distribution of games via cloud game streaming services and that its position in the market for PC operating systems would be strengthened.”

The Commission came up with a series of remedies, however, designed to prevent Microsoft from monopolising the nascent cloud gaming market, including the proviso that Microsoft sticks to a 10-year commitment that will allow other cloud gaming service providers to stream games made by Activision Blizzard.

It’s a very different conclusion from the one arrived at by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, which has blocked Microsoft’s deal on the basis that it could lead to “less innovation and choice” for gamers.

Microsoft intends to appeal the CMA’s decision – and has even hired posh lawyer Lord Pannick KC to help with that process.

The EU’s ruling doesn’t automatically mean the Microsoft-Acti-Blizz deal will still happen, given that its other big opponent besides the CMA happens to be the USA’s Federal Trade Commission. But with an entity as big as the European Commission now on-side (“the commitments will unlock significant benefits for competition and consumers,” the Commission writes), then Microsoft may just have the momentum it needs to push the deal past its remaining opponents.

Ultimately, Microsoft still needs the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal to overturn the CMA’s original ruling, though. As lawyer Anna Poulter-Jones said in our in-depth look at the situation, “If they don’t win on appeal, the deal is dead.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More like this