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Microsoft’s takeover of Activision-Blizzard scrutinized by regulators

The acquisition of Activision-Blizzard for the titanic sum of $69 billion was announced with great fanfare by Microsoft last January. Today, Politico is learning that the Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. federal market regulatory agency, is investigating the matter and will be ready to take legal action to block the acquisition, according to sources familiar with the matter. Indeed, the FTC is concerned about the unfair advantage such a purchase would give Microsoft and its implications for the future of the market. According to the article, such a lawsuit would not be trivial: The companies, which have until next July to conclude the agreement, an unresolved administrative lawsuit could force them to abandon the transaction.

Many licenses are ready to fall into the hands of Microsoft.

But that’s not all. At the same time, the British CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) is investigating the acquisition. Based on initial feedback, the organization believes that “this merger is or could be expected to result in a significant lessening of competition in one or more markets in the UK”. In a lengthy document published in late October, she detailed her concerns. To summarize, in addition to games and licenses, it is the entire Microsoft ecosystem – consoles (Xbox), cloud platform (Azure) and OS (Windows) – which would be in a superior position, while he is already one of the leading in these fields. This could also facilitate the blocking of the competition, e.g. by proposing prohibitive costs for the use of its server solutions.

Interestingly, the CMA publicly revealed the responses of the parties involved yesterday, including Sony, who are concerned that Microsoft will make Activision-Blizzard games exclusive to their platforms and end up raising prices. A rather hypocritical statement from a box notorious for its exclusive products, which recently raised the price of its latest console by €50… More interestingly, the text confirms that Call of Duty is a really important license for the console, and takes the opportunity to explain that its success is impossible to replicate, taking the poor Battlefield series as an example.

Microsft Activision Blizzard Sony Call of Duty Battlefield best picture title in the world

However, Microsoft’s response allays Sony’s concerns about Call of. According to the Redmond company, if Nintendo and Steam were able to do without it, so could Sony. Regarding the CMA’s claims, the company believes that they are far from the mark and that the ecosystem “has not given Microsoft an advantage in the distribution of PC games, with Microsoft occupying seventh place globally, far behind the major PC game distributors”.

In short, while waiting for the conclusions of the various organizations (the European Commission is also on the scene), the deal is still under way and the investigation process for such an acquisition is normal. Before you take to the keyboard to defend your favorite brand in long cobbles on Twitter, we just want to remind you that in any case these companies are not your friends and intend to pick your pockets.

Phil Spencer
Phil Spencer, the head of the video game division at Microsoft, is so nice that he will make you forget about Games For Windows Live!
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