EU approves Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition

The company still has to overcome U.K. regulators, however

Call of Duty MW2

European Union regulators have approved Microsoft’s pending acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard.

In a statement, the European Commission said Xbox’s parent company adequately addressed antitrust concerns by striking 10-year cloud gaming licensing deals with the likes of Nintendo and Nvidia. Sony’s PlayStation, one of Xbox’s biggest competitors, has been trying to block the deal, arguing that Microsoft’s ownership of juggernaut franchises like Call of Duty would be anti-competitive. Microsoft says it has offered Sony similar 10-year licensing deals but has been rejected.

Ultimately, the EU found that Microsoft “would have no incentive to refuse to distribute Activision’s games to Sony” and that “even if Microsoft did decide to withdraw Activision’s games from the PlayStation, this would not significantly harm competition in the consoles market.”

Microsoft’s success in the EU comes just a few weeks after the U.K. blocked the acquisition. At the time, regulators argued that Microsoft “failed to effectively address the concerns in the cloud gaming sector” and that Microsoft’s buyout of Activision Blizzard would lead to “reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years to come.”

Specifically, the U.K. claimed that Microsoft “did not sufficiently cover different cloud gaming service business models, including multigame subscription services” and “was not sufficiently open to providers who might wish to offer versions of games on PC operating systems other than Windows,” among other concerns.

In response, Microsoft said it will appeal the ruling and has reportedly even hired top lawyers who have represented British Royals to help. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard had originally anticipated closing the deal in June 2023, but it remains to be seen if and when that might happen amid the U.K. veto.