Brussels opens an in-depth investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision

Written November 8, 2022, 6:52 p.mUpdated on November 8, 2022, at 19.07.

Brussels announced on Tuesday that it would open an in-depth investigation into giant Microsoft’s proposed takeover of American video game publisher Activision Blizzard. The EU director’s antitrust services estimate that the $69 billion deal could “significantly reduce” competition “in the market for the distribution of video games on consoles and personal computers. [PC] “. The operation was notified to him by the American group on September 30. The European antitrust now has 90 working days, until March 23, 2022, to make a decision, he said in his press release.

The commission explains in detail that it fears that Microsoft will reserve Activision’s flagship franchises such as Call of Duty for its ecosystem. Especially in the services for subscription to a game catalog or in the cloud services for game streaming. which would “lead [in fine] at higher prices, lower quality and less innovation,” notes the Commission.

Operating systems

The commission is even concerned that the operation will give Microsoft an advantage in computer operating systems by discouraging some – the most fanatical of video games – from buying computers that do not run Windows, Microsoft’s operating system.

Microsoft (owner of the Xbox console, notably) announced the purchase of Activision Blizzard in January. If the publisher’s shareholders approved this operation by a large majority, Wall Street has always had doubts about the green light from antitrust authorities around the world. Microsoft took its pilgrim staff to try to convince.

If the Brazilian authorities approved the operation, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided in September to conduct an in-depth investigation, considering itself concerned about the “control” that Microsoft could acquire over a license such as Call of Duty, i.e. could allow him to “harm his rivals”. For its part, the FTC (the US antitrust) is still in the first phase of the investigation of the mega-acquisition.

Sony in the headwind

The operation is rejected in particular by Sony, the American group’s biggest rival in the home console segment with its PlayStation. The Japanese company, like Brussels, argues that in the long term Microsoft could exclusively reserve Call of Duty – which has generated more than $31 billion in revenue in nineteen years and has sold nearly 435 million units in total – for its own ecosystem.

On the contrary, Microsoft promises that the license will remain available on all platforms. Recently, the group also argued with the UK antitrust that the success of the Call of Duty license was “not guaranteed over time”, as evidenced by the average performance of “Call of Duty: Vanguard”, launched a year ago .

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