Microsoft Just Cleared A Major Hurdle In Activision-Blizzard Acquisition

Microsoft is expected to secure the EU antitrust approval for its. acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

By Jason Collins | Published

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Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the largest acquisition in the gaming industry ever, turned out the be a Sisyphean undertaking for the company. The company’s competitors, Sony chief among them, were very vocal against the acquisition; even some gamers disapproved of the idea. Yet, it would seem that Microsoft had managed to overcome the bulk of its obstacles on its way to acquiring the world’s first independent gaming developer.  

Microsoft is expected to secure the EU antitrust approval for its (nearly) $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard (AKB), as reported by Reuters, thanks to extensive offers and licensing deals the company made to its rivals. In addition to licensing deals, Microsoft may also have to address other remedies to address the antitrust concerns voiced by other players in the gaming field—most notably Sony—but the company wouldn’t sell the Call of Duty franchise, which retained its annual release schedule if it acquired Activision.

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In fact, gaming releases such as Call of Duty and the upcoming Diablo 4 are the main reason why most of Microsoft’s competitors complained about the acquisition. If it acquired Activision Blizzard, Microsoft would bring the whole roster of ABK’s IPs under its own management. This means that the games like CoD and Diablo, which were thoroughly enjoyed on several different platforms, could become Xbox and PC exclusives. Console manufacturers, who depend on gaming releases for their platforms, stand to lose a lot if that were to happen.

Such theories were previously dismissed by the head of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer, stating that the company has plans to offer as many ABK titles as possible within Game Pass but that they won’t be barred from other platforms. In fact, to appease the competition and various antitrust committees formed to inspect the acquisition, Microsoft offered Call of Duty licensing deals to its competitors, including Sony. The company also stated that it wants to grant long-term 100% equal access to Call of Duty and all other ABK franchises to all of its competitors.

If that’s true, and with Microsoft offering the same deals to everyone left, right, and center, the company actually stands to increase the competition in the market, which ultimately benefits developers and gamers the most. Considering that Microsoft already signed 10-year licensing deals with Nintendo and Nvidia regarding Call of Duty last month—the agreements are preconditioned on greenlighting the acquisition—it’s already becoming clear that the company is pushing for the acquisition to go through.

The only one that takes convincing right now is Sony, who received the same offer as everyone else. However, Sony remained the largest opponent of the acquisition, standing to lose the most if Microsoft was to pull Call of Duty from PlayStation. However, Microsoft managed to turn the tables on Sony and subpoenaed its rival. Sony now has to provide Microsoft with exclusivity deals and four years’ worth of company records that the defense claims will help make a case for why its proposed acquisition should go through. Hey, Sony did it first.

With everything said, Microsoft continues to secure deals with its competitors, while Sony’s continued efforts to thwart the acquisition remain an uphill battle—at best. There’s a good possibility that Microsoft will complete the acquisition of ABK, despite all the hurdles put in its way.