No Microsoft Concessions To EU Over Activision Deal

Call of Duty Mobile

Software giant continues to play hardball with European regulators investigating its $69 billion purchase of gaming giant Activision

Microsoft has reportedly not offered any concessions or remedies to EU antitrust regulators reviewing its acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

It was back in January this year when Microsoft announced it would acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

At the time Redmond said that the deal would accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud, and would provide building blocks for the metaverse.

Regulatory concerns

But the deal provoked regulatory concerns around the world, and besides the UK, will also require approval in the United States as well as other major jurisdictions including the European Union and China.

Microsoft of course already has a huge foothold in the gaming sector since 2001, thanks to its Xbox console and gaming brand.

The acquisition will give Microsoft access to an expansive library of classic games that spans the Playstation, Xbox and PC platforms.

These games include Call Of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Candy Crush, and of course Starcraft.

Playstation owner Sony is not at all happy at the prospect that such big name titles would fall under the control of its main gaming platform rival.

Click to read Silicon UK’s Tales in Tech History piece about Microsoft’s gaming adventure.

These concerns have not gone unnoticed by competition regulators.

British probe

In July the UK’s CMA said it would begin Phase 1 investigation over whether the deal would reduce competition in the UK.

After the Phase 1 investigation revealed regulatory concerns, the CMA said in September it would begin a deeper Phase 2 investigation.

However the UK regulator gave Microsoft until 8 September to submit proposals to address the CMA’s concerns.

The CMA said it is concerned that Microsoft’s anticipated purchase of Activision Blizzard could “substantially lessen competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services, and cloud gaming services (game streaming).”

Microsoft responded to the CMA deadline, but offered no concessions or remedial undertakings to the British competition regulator.

EU probe

And now Reuters, citing a person familiar with the matter as saying on Monday, that Microsoft has also not offered any remedies to EU antitrust regulators over the matter – ahead of an expected full-scale EU probe.

The European Commission is reportedly scheduled to finish its preliminary assessment of the deal by 8 November, said its website was up to date.

The website showed that Microsoft had not provided concessions.

Microsoft said it continues to work with the Commission on the next steps and to address any valid marketplace concerns, such as those voiced by Sony.

“Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation,” Microsoft reportedly said in a statement.

Companies typically do not offer remedies during the EU preliminary review when they know regulators subsequently intend to open a four-month long investigation, Reuters reported.