The European Commission will, as predicted, conduct a thorough probe of Microsoft’s $69 billion proposal to acquire Activision Blizzard. Following a preliminary investigation, the European Commission said Tuesday (via Reuters) that it thinks the merger would “seriously decrease competition” in a few sectors, including the PC and console gaming marketplaces, as well as cloud gaming services.
According to antitrust experts at the Commission, Microsoft may have a financial motive to restrict rivals from obtaining Activision Blizzard’s “high-profile and highly popular games,” including new Call of Duty entries. The organisation is also worried that the agreement would unfairly favour Windows over alternative PC operating systems. On the surface, this seems to be an odd issue, but it’s worth noting that the popularity of devices like the Steam Deck has made Linux a viable gaming option for Windows.
With today’s statement, the European Commission now has 90 working days to finish its investigation, with a judgement expected by March 23rd, 2023 at the latest.
“Microsoft has been a big role in the gaming supply chain for many years.” It is purchasing Activision Blizzard, a hugely successful game content company. “We must guarantee that opportunities for future and present PC and console video game distributors, as well as competitor providers of PC operating systems, continue,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of competition policy. “The goal is to guarantee that the gaming ecosystem stays robust for the benefit of users in a rapidly expanding industry.”
Activision Blizzard also released a letter from CEO Bobby Kotick. “The European Commission confirmed last week that we have launched the second phase of our regional evaluation.” We will continue to work with the European Commission, where we have many workers in the nations they represent,” Kotick added. “We have been working closely with Microsoft to aggressively engage authorities in other major countries in order to answer their queries and provide them with material to aid in their evaluation.”
The Commission will not necessarily prohibit the acquisition, but it may severely delay it and push Microsoft to make concessions. Xbox CEO Phil Spencer has taken aggressive steps to appease authorities. “We’re not going to take Call of Duty away from PlayStation.” “That was not our intention,” he recently said. “Our objective is not to stop that, and as long as there are PlayStations to ship to, we want to continue shipping Call of Duty on PlayStation.”