Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition has been approved by the European Commission weeks after being blocked by the UK’s antitrust regulator.
The news comes days after sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Commission was set to give its approval for the deal this week thanks to Microsoft’s licensing deals with cloud streaming companies like Nvidia, Boosteroid, and Ubitus.
The Commission launched its in-depth antitrust investigation into the deal in November, and reportedly issued an antitrust warning to the company in February, saying that the deal could harm competition in the console and PC gaming market.
In a statement on Monday, the Commission said that it ‘’has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard (‘Activision’) by Microsoft. The approval is conditional on full compliance with the commitments offered by Microsoft. 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.’’
According to the statement, Microsoft’s proposed remedies that enabled it to receive the approval include ‘’a free license to consumers in the EEA that would allow them to stream, via any cloud game streaming services of their choice, all current and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games for which they have a license’’, and ‘’a corresponding free license to cloud game streaming service providers to allow EEA-based gamers to stream any Activision Blizzard’s PC and console games.’’
After the announcement, Microsoft’s Vice Chair and President Brad Smith said: ‘’The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services. This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose.’’
The news also comes weeks after the Competition and Markets Authority of the United Kingdom blocked the proposed acquisition saying that Microsoft failed to address its concerns regarding the console gaming market. In December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also sued Microsoft to block the deal over similar concerns.
Following the Commission’s move, the CMA said: ‘’The UK, US and European competition authorities are unanimous that this merger would harm competition in cloud gaming.The CMA concluded that cloud gaming needs to continue as a free, competitive market to drive innovation and choice in this rapidly evolving sector. Microsoft’s proposals, accepted by the European Commission today, would allow Microsoft to set the terms and conditions for this market for the next 10 years.’’
Meanwhile, the deal, which would be Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever if it goes through, has been approved by Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Serbia, Chile, Japan, South Africa and Ukraine.