Brussels opens in-depth investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision

Posted Nov 8, 2022, 6:52 PMUpdated on Nov. 8, 2022, 7:07 p.m.

Brussels announced Tuesday to open an in-depth investigation into the proposed takeover of the American video game publisher Activision Blizzard by the giant Microsoft. The EU executive’s antitrust services estimate that the $69 billion deal could “significantly reduce” competition “in the market for the distribution of video games on consoles and personal computers. [PC] “. The operation was notified to him by the American group on September 30. The European antitrust now has 90 working days, until March 23, 2022, to make a decision, he said in his press release.

In detail, the Commission explains that it fears that Microsoft will reserve Activision’s flagship franchises such as Call of Duty for its ecosystem. In particular in the services of subscription to a catalog of games or in the cloud services of game streaming. which would “lead [in fine] to higher prices, lower quality and less innovation,” observes the Commission.

Operating systems

The Commission is even concerned that the operation will give Microsoft an advantage in the field of computer operating systems by discouraging some – the most fanatics of video games – from buying computers that do not run Windows, the system of operation of Microsoft.

Microsoft (owner of the Xbox console, in particular) announced the acquisition of Activision Blizzard in January. If the publisher’s shareholders approved this operation by a large majority, Wall Street has always had doubts about the green light from antitrust authorities around the world. Microsoft took its pilgrim’s stick to try to convince.

If the Brazilian authorities approved the operation, the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided in September to carry out an in-depth investigation, considering itself concerned about the “control” that Microsoft could acquire over a license like Call of Duty, that could allow him to “harm his rivals”. For its part, the FTC (the American antitrust) is still in the first phase of examination of the mega-acquisition.

Sony upwind

The operation is notably decried by Sony, the American group’s main rival in the home console segment with its PlayStation. The Japanese firm argues like Brussels that Microsoft could, in the long term, exclusively reserve Call of Duty – which has generated more than 31 billion dollars in revenue in nineteen years and has sold nearly 435 million units in all – to its own ecosystem.

Opposite, Microsoft promises that the license will remain available on all platforms. Recently, the group also argued with the British antitrust that the success of the Call of Duty license was “not guaranteed over time”, as evidenced by the average performance of “Call of Duty: Vanguard”, launched one year ago.

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