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Microsoft's Activision Blizzard merger approved in New Zealand

The Commerce Commission found them merger is "unlikely to substantially lessen competition."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

August 8, 2023

2 Min Read
New Zealand flag flying in the sky
Photo by Claudette Wicks via Unsplash

New Zealand's primary competition regulator, the Commerce Commission, has approved Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In a brief statement, the commission said it has granted clearance for Microsoft to acquire 100 percent of the common stock of the U.S. publisher.

When assessing the merger, the commission said it focused on the importance of Activision Blizzard franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch and World of Warcraft, and whether Microsoft would prevent rivals like Sony and Nvidia from offering those titles on their own platforms.

Ultimately, the commission found that while Activision Blizzard has many titles that are popular with players in New Zealand, it doesn't believe those releases are "must haves" for Microsoft's competitors.

As a result, commission chair Dr John Small said "the merger is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any New Zealand market."

The finish line comes into focus for Microsoft and Activision Blizzard

It's another win for Microsoft, which now looks all but certain to complete the protracted merger after overcoming the legal challenge of U.S. regulator the FTC and sealing approval in other key regions such as the EU and Japan.

The Xbox maker is also currently renegotiating with UK regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after the deal was blocked in the region over concerns it might allow Microsoft to dominate rivals in the nascent cloud market.

Microsoft sought to appeal that ruling and is currently attempting to win the CMA over after convincing Sony to accept a partnership deal that will ensure Call of Duty remains on PlayStation platforms for the next decade should the merger be completed.

Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have agreed to extend the deadline for the merger to be completed until October 18 while they seek to overcome those last regulatory hurdles.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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