European investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

The European Commission announced Tuesday that it has opened an in-depth investigation into the extent to which a deal in which Microsoft intends to buy video game developer Activision Blizzard, the maker of the Call of Duty game, meets antitrust standards.

The European Commission said in a statement that the investigation was opened on the grounds that “the proposed acquisition may reduce competition in the market for the distribution of video games intended for game consoles, personal computers and personal computer operating systems.”

In January, tech giant Microsoft, which makes Xbox and its own games for PCs and mobile devices, announced a $69 billion plan to acquire Activision Blizzard with the goal of creating the third-largest gaming company by revenue.

The European Commission said an in-depth investigation would look into the implications of the acquisition “to verify the validity of its initial competition concerns”.

She expressed concern that the deal could result in Microsoft incorporating the popular Activision Blizzard games into its operating system, limiting consumers’ ability to use them outside of the US company’s operating system.

The European Commission considered that “Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard may prevent access to video games produced by Activision Blizzard for game consoles and personal computers, especially the most popular games such as Call of Duty.”

The Commission considered that Microsoft has the ability and “potential economic incentive” to move forward with that strategy.

She pointed out that such a path “may reduce competition in the market in terms of distributing video games for game consoles and personal computers, which will lead to higher prices and a decline in quality and innovation among game console distributors, which may also apply to consumers.”

On January 18, Microsoft announced that it intends to acquire the American video game giant Activision Blizzard for about $69 billion.

Microsoft expected that this acquisition will “accelerate” its growth in the field of games and at the cloud level.



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