London: The European Commission on Monday approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard by Microsoft for $68.7 billion.
The Commission said in a statement that it has based its decision on hard evidence, and on extensive information and feedback from competitors and customers, including from game developers and distributors as well as cloud game streaming platforms in the EU.
The preliminary investigation found that Microsoft could harm competition in the distribution of console and PC video games, including multi-game subscription services and cloud game streaming services; and in the supply of PC operating systems.
The Commission’s in-depth market investigation indicated that 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,” said the Commission.
The EU decision came as the UK market regulator last month announced it was blocking Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the developer behind the hugely popular Call of Duty (CoD) franchise.
The European Commission found that Microsoft would have no incentive to refuse to distribute Activision’s games to Sony, which is the leading distributor of console games worldwide, including in the European Economic Area (aEEA’) where there are four Sony PlayStation consoles for every Microsoft Xbox console bought by gamers.
“Indeed, Microsoft would have strong incentives to continue distributing Activision’s games via a device as popular as Sony’s PlayStation,” it said.
If Microsoft made Activision’s games exclusive to its own cloud game streaming service, Microsoft could also strengthen the position of Windows in the market for PC operating systems.
“This could be the case, should Microsoft hinder or degrade the streaming of Activision’s games on PCs using operating systems other than Windows,” read the decision.
Microsoft entered into a $68.7 billion deal to buy Activision, one of the most popular video game publishers in the world, in January 2022.