Europe can still derail the acquisition of Activision Blizzard
The takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is under the watchful eye of Europe, which could cancel the transaction.
It’s been several months now since Microsoft expressed its intention to buy the Activision Blizzard studio. Far from being a light and inconsequential acquisition, the $70 billion transaction has since been scrutinized by international authorities. The goal for Microsoft is now to convince the various world powers that this takeover does not violate any law with regard to competition and monopoly.
After Brazil or the United Kingdom, it is the turn of the European Union to scrutinize the giant’s proposal. And first impressions are far from good for the firm. Indeed, in a report just published, Europe confirms concerns and is now carrying out an in-depth investigation, a kind of critical second phase for the future of both parties. You can read there:
“The Commission’s preliminary investigation shows that the transaction is likely to significantly reduce competition in the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multi-game subscription services and/or streaming services cloud gaming, and PC operating systems. In particular, the Commission is concerned that by acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft will foreclose access to video games for consoles and PCs from Activision Blizzard, in particular high-profile and blockbuster games (so-called ‘AAA’ games) such as ‘ Call of Duty’.”
The FPS, which has just offered a new opus, is the greatest concern of the commission, and this despite the words of Microsoft which are intended to be reassuring. On several occasions, the firm explained that call of duty would live on PlayStation as long as its consoles are present on the market, and that the contracts between Sony and Activision would obviously be honored until the end.
A turning point in video game history
More than words, Europe is asking for proof because it recognizes that Microsoft has the power to change the situation. This is of crucial importance according to Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, who explains in the report:
“Video games attract billions of users worldwide and are among the fastest growing forms of digital entertainment. For years, Microsoft has been a major player in the video game supply chain. The company is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, a highly successful video game content producer.
We must ensure that opportunities remain for current and future distributors of PC and console video games, as well as rival PC operating system vendors. This is to ensure that the games ecosystem remains dynamic, to the benefit of users, in an industry that is changing at a rapid pace. Our in-depth investigation will assess how the deal affects the video game supply chain.”
No response for months
That being said, the European Union will carry out the investigation, the result of which can reach us no later than March 23, 2023. It will therefore be necessary to be patient before knowing what sauce the players will be eaten. This is a hugely significant acquisition not only for its historical impact, but also for all Activision Blizzard franchises and their future on PlayStation generally.