EU approves Microsoft’s deal to buy Activision Blizzard
By Brian Fung, CNN
European regulators have approved Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, handing the technology giant a victory at a time when the deal is being challenged in other countries.
While the merger could harm competition in some respects, particularly in the fast-growing market for cloud gaming services, concessions by Microsoft were enough to mitigate antitrust concerns stemming from the deal, the European Commission said in a statement.
Among Microsoft’s offers were a 10-year commitment letting European consumers play Activision titles on any cloud gaming service. Microsoft also committed that it would not downgrade the quality or content of its games made available on rival streaming platforms.
“These commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission and represent a significant improvement for cloud game streaming compared to the current situation,” the Commission said.
The Microsoft deal, which would make the company the third largest game publisher in the world after Tencent and Sony, is being challenged in the United States and the UK.
In a statement, Microsoft said its commitment on game streaming would go beyond the European Union.
“The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose.”
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick called the requirements “stringent” and pledged to expand investments in EU workers.
“Our talented teams in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Romania, Poland and many other European countries have the skills, ambition, and government support needed to compete effectively on a global scale,” Kotick said in a statement. “We expect these teams to grow and prosper given their governments’ firm but pragmatic approach to gaming.”
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