According to reports, Microsoft has passed a crucial regulatory test in its efforts to close the deal on the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The European Union (EU) is reportedly calming down about antitrust concerns about the $69 billion acquisition thanks to the company’s licencing offers to competitors, as reported by Reuters. Prior to this announcement, the EU had voiced concerns that the deal could “significantly reduce competition” in the PC, console, and cloud gaming markets.
In order to approve the deal, the EU is not expected to require any asset sales. The potential sale of Call of Duty, however, has been a source of contention, as Microsoft is keen to maintain ownership of the IP and appease regulators via existing licencing agreements. If the deal goes through, the buyer has promised to keep the Call of Duty series available on rival consoles for at least a decade.
Microsoft claims it “is committed to offering effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the concerns of the European Commission.” “Our commitment to grant long-term 100% equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Steam, NVIDIA and others preserves the deal’s benefits to gamers and developers and increases competition in the market,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters.
In January of 2022, the company announced the partnership as a means of developing its own take on the metaverse and competing with market leaders Tencent and Sony. “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the time.
Before the merger can be finalised, Microsoft must still win over the US Federal Trade Commission and the UK’s regulators. The deadline for resolving the antitrust concerns is July 1, after which the company will either have to renegotiate the terms of the purchase or abandon it (at which point it will be required to pay a breakup fee of up to $3 billion).