Microsoft’s takeover of Activision in Europe’s sights

69 billion dollars. This is the amount for the purchase of the Activision-Blizzard video game studio by the giant Microsoft. A historic seizure of power, which is slow to be validated by the authorities.

The European Commission announced on Tuesday, November 8, the opening of an in-depth investigation into this takeover project. She fears that this operation could “significantly reduce” competition in the market. More specifically, Brussels is afraid that Microsoft could “lock access to Activision Blizzard video games for consoles and PC” and that it is tempted to set up “Strategies for Exposing Competing Distributors of Console Video Games”. Fears were already raised several weeks ago by the European authorities.

Specifically, the commission is afraid that large licenses such as call of duty are only available on Xbox, consoles developed by the American or through Game Pass, its offer is often compared to a “Netflix of video games”. Brussels believes that a dominant position for Microsoft can lead to “higher prices, lower quality and reduced innovation” in this market that generates billions of dollars every year.

Brussels will make its decision in early 2023

The European Commission’s investigation therefore aims to “to determine if his initial fears are confirmed”. In addition to the video game component, the study will focus on the PC operating system market. “She believes that users may be deterred from buying non-Windows PCs” explains Le Monde. The European Commission issues its decision by 23 March 2023 at the latest.

Other institutions are closely monitoring this takeover. The British competition authorities also launched an investigation in September 2022. At the start of the year, the United States had already taken up the matter.

Faced with concerns, Microsoft has already sent reassuring signals. While the industry feared an exclusivity of the strongest licenses from Activision, Microsoft ensured that Call of Duty, the studio’s most famous franchise, remains available on all media. The latest Modern Warfare II, for example, is well marketed on Xbox and PC, but also on PS5.

Furthermore, even with this historic acquisition, Microsoft is not the largest video game developer. With this acquisition, the American becomes the third distributor in the world market after Chinese Tencent and its great rival Sony.

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