$69 billion. This is the amount of the acquisition of the Activision-Blizzard video game studio by the giant Microsoft. A historic takeover that 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” market competition. 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 the eviction of competing distributors of video games for consoles”. Fears already raised several weeks ago by the European authorities.
In concrete terms, the Commission is afraid that large licenses like call of duty are only available on Xbox, consoles developed by the American or through the Game Pass, its offer often likened to a “Netflix of video games”. Brussels considers that a dominant position of Microsoft could lead “higher prices, lower quality and reduced innovation” in this market generating billions of dollars each 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”. Beyond the video game component, the survey will focus on the market for PC operating systems. “She believes users might be discouraged from buying non-Windows PCs” explains Le Monde. The European Commission will issue its decision on March 23, 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 case.
Faced with concerns, Microsoft has already sent soothing 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, would remain available on all media. The latest Modern Warfare II, for example, is well marketed on Xbox and PC, but also on PS5.
Moreover, even with this historic takeover, Microsoft is not the largest video game developer. With this acquisition, the American becomes the third distributor on the world market, behind the Chinese Tencent and its great rival Sony.