Activision Blizzard: the European Commission validates the takeover by Microsoft

In January 2022, Microsoft announced the acquisition ofActivision-Blizzard and therefore of its franchises, which obviously does not please sonythe latter relies heavily on the sales of call of duty on playstation. The takeover has not yet been finalized, various organizations must validate itand it’s not a winner.

There Federal Trade Commission American and the Competition and Markets Authority of the United Kingdom have already expressed their desire to block this takeover, fearing in particular for the market of the cloud gaming. Microsoft is sweaty, but today, the first important victory for the constructor of the Xbox : there European Commission valid, “under conditions”, the redemption ofActivision-Blizzard by Microsoft. The organization claims that Microsoft would have no interest in doing call of duty an exclusivity Xboxbut if so, sony would do just fine with its other franchises. The market of cloud gaming is currently too weak in the video game economic landscape for this to influence its decision. The condition is that Microsoft allows service users to cloud gaming to play titlesActivision-Blizzard. Here are the key points of this report of the European Commission :

  • Microsoft would have no interest in refusing to distribute Activision’s games to Sony, which is the world’s leading distributor of console games, including in the European Economic Area (“EEA”), where for every Microsoft Xbox console purchased, four Sony PlayStation consoles are purchased by gamers. Indeed, Microsoft would have a strong interest in distributing Activision games on a console as popular as Sony’s PlayStation.
  • Even if Microsoft decided to remove Activision’s games from the PlayStation, it would not seriously harm competition in the console market.. Although Call of Duty attracts many console gamers, the game is less popular in the EEA than in other regions of the world, and among games of the same genre, it is less popular in the EEA than in other countries. other markets. Consequently, even without being able to offer this specific game, Sony could take advantage of its size, its extensive catalog of games and its position in the market to counter any attempt to weaken its competitive position;
  • even without the operation, Activision would not have put its games available to multi-game subscription services, given that it would cannibalize sales of individual games. As a result, the situation for third-party multi-game subscription service providers would not change after Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision;
  • acquisition would harm competition in the market for the distribution of PC and console games through cloud game streaming services, an innovative market segment that could transform the way many gamers play video games. Despite its potential, cloud game streaming today is very limited. The Commission felt that the popularity of Activision’s games could help its growth. On the contrary, if Microsoft limited exclusively Activision’s games to its own cloud game streaming serviceGame Pass Ultimate, and make them unavailable to competing cloud game streaming providers, it would lessen competition in the cloud streaming game distribution market;
  • if Microsoft limited Activision’s games exclusively to its own cloud game streaming service, it could also strengthen the position of Windows in the PC operating system market. This could be the case if Microsoft hindered or degraded the streaming of Activision games on PCs using operating systems other than Windows.

The issue of cloud gaming is still central for the European Commissionwhich recalls that Microsoft has already signed partnerships with GeForce NOW, Boosteroid And Ubitus. This will allow a large number of players to take advantage of the manufacturer’s licenses (including those ofActivision-Blizzard) in streaming :

In order to remedy the competition concerns raised by the Commission on the market for the distribution of PC and console games by cloud game streaming servicesMicrosoft offered the following global licensing commitments for a 10-year term:

  • a free license granted to EEA consumersallowing them to stream, using the cloud game streaming service of their choice, all current and future Activision Blizzard games for PC and consoles for which they have a license;
  • a corresponding free license granted to cloud game streaming service providersto allow gamers based in the EEA to stream all Activision Blizzard games for PC and consoles.

It is therefore a first major battle that is won here Microsoftit will now be necessary to wait for the conclusion of the report of China as well as the lawsuit of the FTC and the appeal of the decision of the CMA for the case to really move forward. Clear, it is far from being recorded despite this victory. You can subscribe to computer/Xbox Game Pass Ultimate against €12.99 per month through Amazon.

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