The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft under the EU Merger Regulation.
The EU Commission is concerned that the proposed acquisition may reduce competition in the markets for the distribution of console and personal computers (‘PCs’) video games, including multi-game subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems. 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 such as ‘Call of Duty’.
The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation into the effects of the transaction to determine whether its initial competition concerns are confirmed. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Video games attract billions of users all over the world and are among the fastest growing forms of digital entertainment. For years, Microsoft has been a major player across the gaming supply chain. It is acquiring Activision Blizzard, a highly successful producer of gaming content. We must ensure that opportunities remain for future and existing distributors of PC and console video games, as well as for rival suppliers of PC operating systems. The point is to ensure that the gaming ecosystem remains vibrant to the benefit of users in a sector that is evolving at a fast pace. Our in-depth investigation will assess how the deal affects the gaming supply chain.” A press release is available online.