When we are around a year after its official announcement, the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is about to face another interesting chapter. According to Reuters, the approval would be subject to antitrust warnings from the European Union through a resolution that will force companies to be accountable and offer public explanations to the authorities that run the economic bloc. The acquisition agreement, for 68,700 million dollars, would provide the multinational with franchises as profitable as ‘call of duty‘ and consolidated works such as ‘Devil‘, ‘world of warcraft‘ Y ‘Overwatch‘, among many others. Following in the footsteps of previous acquisitions, Microsoft intends to bring as many Activision-Blizzard titles as possible to Game Pass on Xbox and PC. This means that subscribers to the service will have access to much of the catalogue, including all releases on day 1 at no additional cost. As you can guess, everything indicates that PlayStation will stop receiving the vast majority of the publisher’s titles.
An anticipated problem
The notice sent by the European Commission should reach the Microsoft offices in the coming weeks, but the authority has until April 11 to ratify the final decision on the merger between the companies, which raises several questions related to its possible impact on market competitiveness. In any case, the development of the situation is not surprising, especially given the rounds of negotiations that the purchase has already generated in the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Basically, on the same terms as other entities, the CMA warns that once acquired, Microsoft would have an unfair advantage in the subscription and streaming segment. He also stresses that the deal could be detrimental because of its potential to transform ‘Call of Duty’ into a franchise exclusive to its platforms. In addition to resistance in Europe and the UK, the merger is encountering major barriers in the US. There, the regulatory body, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced the opening of a process to evaluate the repercussions derived from the linking of companies, something that has ended up including consultations with its competitors such as Sony, Google and Nvidia.
Deal should only be approved with concessions
What is foreseeable for the purchase of Activision to materialize is that Microsoft agrees to make a series of concessions. This could vary, from public commitments so that ‘Call of Duty’ does not end up becoming an exclusive franchise, to putting certain parts of the absorbed publisher up for sale. The Redmond house has already committed to keeping the shooter series on PlayStation for 10 years, something that, according to what has been leaked, does not particularly excite Sony executives. So far, in total, 16 regulatory bodies around the world have launched investigations into the acquisition to assess its potential impact on competition. The deal has only been approved by regulators in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Serbia.Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II – Launch Trailer