The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has launched an in-depth antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.
While Microsoft claims that the acquisition will enhance competition in the gaming ecosystem and offer more choices for both gamers and game creators, the Commission said it could significantly harm competition and limit access to Activision’s hit titles like Call of Duty.
‘’The Commission’s preliminary investigation shows that the transaction may significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multi-game subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems,’’ said the EU Commission in a statement.
‘’In particular, the Commission is concerned that, by acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft may foreclose access to Activision Blizzard’s console and PC video games, especially to high-profile and highly successful games (so-called ‘AAA’ games) such as ‘Call of Duty’.’’
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Following the launch of the probe, Microsoft said that it would work with the Commission to address its concerns.
“Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less,” a spokesperson for the company said.
The Commission has 90 days, until 23 March 2023, to reach a decision.
Similar concerns led the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to open an antitrust investigation into the transaction in July, and the watchdog entered the second-phase of its review in September.
In addition, the deal is currently facing another probe by the Federal Trade Commission of the United States. Its decision is expected to be announced this month.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia became the first country to approve the deal in August, followed by Brazil last month.