£55bn Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger approved by EU despite UK rejection
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A $69bn (£55bn) deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard has been approved by EU regulators, just weeks after it was blocked by the UK. Microsoft, who owns game console company Xbox, plans to buy the Call of Duty Publisher and expand its growing network of game developers which already includes Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout series) and Mojang Studios (Minecraft).
The European Commission said that the tech company had addressed their concerns around competition issues and the potential of Microsoft owning a significant portion of the gaming market. The decision comes three weeks after the merger was blocked by the UK over concerns that the deal would hurt competition in the cloud gaming market.
Set to be the biggest deal in gaming history, the Microsoft purchase has divided the opinions of regulators across the globe. In order to pass the deal, the tech companies will need the approval of the regulatory bodies in the UK,EU and the US.
The debate around the deal looks set to continue to the end of the year with the US Federal Trade Commission filing a lawsuit in December 2022 to block the deal. A decision in the US is unlikely to be made before the end of the year and will await a decision from a judge.
So far, only the European Commission have approved the deal, saying that Microsoft’s plans to offer 10 year free licensing deals means that it would offer fair competition in the gaming market. The 10 year deal would promise consumers and cloud game streaming services access to both Activision’s console and PC games.
A statement from the EU competition watchdog, told the BBC: “"The commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission and represent a significant improvement for cloud gaming as compared to the current situation,”
They also said that during an in-depth investigation that Microsoft “would not be able to harm rival consoles and rival multi-game subscription services.” The EU competition watchdog also said that cloud game streaming service providers reacted positively to the news, adding that they “showed interest in the licences”, with some already signing agreements with Microsoft.