Microsoft’s $69 Billion Activision Deal Approved by the EU

The European Commission has given the green light to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a massive $69 billion deal, subject to certain conditions. This decision comes after a thorough investigation of the potential impact on the gaming market, particularly focusing on cloud gaming.

The Commission’s concerns, which were primarily focused on the distribution of PC and console games via cloud gaming services and the supply of PC operating systems, have been fully addressed by Microsoft. The tech giant has made commitments aimed at improving the cloud gaming experience, which were seen as significant improvements compared to the current situation.

“Today’s decision is based on hard evidence, extensive information, and feedback from competitors, customers, game developers, distributors, and cloud game streaming platforms in the EU,” stated the Commission on Monday.

Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are gaming giants with the development, publication, and distribution of games for PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. The Commission found that while Microsoft wouldn’t significantly harm competition in consoles and multi-game subscription services, there was a potential for harm in the distribution of games via cloud game streaming services and its PC operating system market position.

Notably, Microsoft offered comprehensive licensing commitments to address these concerns. These include a free license for European Economic Area (EEA) consumers to stream Activision Blizzard PC and console games via any cloud game streaming services, and a corresponding free license to cloud game streaming service providers. These commitments are set to last for a decade. This was good enough to satisfy EU regulators it seems.

Activision Blizzard’s portfolio includes iconic franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo. Microsoft’s commitments will ensure that these games can be streamed on any device using any operating system, boosting competition and consumer choice in the EEA region.

“Video games attract billions of users all over the world. In such a fast-growing and dynamic industry, it is crucial to protect competition and innovation. Our decision represents an important step in this direction, by bringing Activision’s popular games to many more devices and consumers than before thanks to cloud game streaming. The commitments offered by Microsoft will enable for the first time the streaming of such games in any cloud game streaming services, enhancing competition and opportunities for growth,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy.

The Commission’s approval is conditional upon Microsoft’s full compliance with the commitments. The implementation of these commitments will be monitored by an independent trustee under the Commission’s supervision.

While the EU is the first to approve the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal, the U.S. FTC is blocking the deal, while the UK similarly did the same last month. Microsoft slammed the UK decision by saying it was the “darkest day” for Microsoft, calling the move “bad for Britain”.