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Report: EU to approve Activision Blizzard merger after Microsoft licensing blitz

Microsoft's willingness to offer licensing deals to rivals might have persuaded EU regulators to approve its Activision Blizzard merger.

Chris Kerr

March 2, 2023

2 Min Read
A picture of the EU flag blowing in the wind
Image by S. Hermann / F. Richter from Pixabay

Reuters is reporting that Microsoft's willingness to offer licensing deals to rivals such as Nintendo and Sony will persuade EU regulators to approve its Activision Blizzard merger.

Microsoft recently signed a binding contract to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms for the next decade should the $68.7 billion acquisition gain approval. The company said it has also made the same offer to Sony, but it seems the PlayStation maker isn't keen on the proposal.

Microsoft execs recently attended a closed doors heading with the European Commission in a bid to push the deal through. The European Commission has been investigating the merger for months, and is worried it would harm competition within the game industry by allowing Microsoft to make key Activision Blizzard franchises, such as Call of Duty, platform exclusive.

Now, Reuters says that three people "familiar with the matter" believe Microsoft's decision to offer licensing deals to competitors will likely address EU antitrust concerns.

A major victory for Microsoft?

If the deal is approved by the EU it would mark a significant win for Microsoft, which is also struggling to gain approval in the United States and UK—where the deal is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), respectively.

The FTC is currently suing Microsoft to block the deal, while the CMA is also looking into the merger. Like the EU, both regulators say they're concerned the move will allow Microsoft to dominate the industry and potentially even foreclose its rivals by restricting access to major franchises.

In its provisional findings published last month, the CMA suggested it might be willing to approval the deal if Microsoft makes concessions, such as divesting Activision Blizzard by selling off notable studios or franchises, including Call of Duty.

The three sources that spoke with Reuters, however, claim the EU isn't expected to demand Microsoft sell assets to seal the deal.

For all the latest on Activision's ongoing battle to acquire Activision Blizzard, keep an eye on our regularly updated rundown.

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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