Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition faces “in depth” investigation in Europe

The European Commission is concerned the acquisition could "significantly reduce competition"

The European Commission has opened an “in-depth investigation” into Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In a statement issued yesterday (November 8), the Commission highlighted that Microsoft‘s acquisition could “significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multi-game subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems.”

“In particular, the Commission is concerned that, by acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft may foreclose access to Activision Blizzard’s console and PC video games, especially to high-profile and highly successful games (so-called ‘AAA’ games) such as Call of Duty,” continued the statement.

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The Commission added that Microsoft “may have the ability, as well as the potential economic incentive” to prevent Activision Blizzard’s games from being sold on other consoles, and has “concerns” that Microsoft’s library could “discourage” consumers from buying non-Windows PCs.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 preview image
‘Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’. CREDIT: Infinity Ward.

It also raised the concern that if Microsoft made Activision Blizzard’s games exclusive to its Game Pass and streaming services, it could lead to “higher prices, lower quality and less innovation for console game distributors, which may in turn be passed on to consumers.”

The investigation has until March 23, 2023, to reach a decision. However, it’s not the only investigation that the acquisition faces – the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is also carrying out a more in-depth investigation into the purchase.

In September, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recognised that “any acquisition of this size will go through scrutiny,” but said the company feels “very, very confident” it will be approved.

Meanwhile, Xbox head Phil Spencer recently stated that Microsoft plans to release Call of Duty on Sony‘s consoles for “as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to,” and shared that he would “love” to see the series available on Nintendo Switch.

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