The European Commission has announced the start of phase two of its antitrust investigation into the deal in which Microsoft plans to buy Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion. According to the regulator, the deal could hurt competition in the gaming industry, making this matter necessary is in-depth consideration. The agency’s investigation will end no later than March 23, 2023.
“A preliminary investigation by the European Commission has revealed that the deal could significantly reduce the level of competition in the distribution markets for video games for consoles and computers. <…> The preliminary investigation shows that Microsoft has the ability and potential economic incentive to implement an anti-competitive strategy against third-party console game providers.”the European Commission said in a statement.
Microsoft announced its intention to work with the regulator to resolve emerging issues. “Sony, as an industry leader, has raised concerns about Call of Duty, but we have reiterated our commitment to making the same game available on Xbox and PlayStation on the same day.”– said a representative of Microsoft, adding that the company does not intend to restrict access to games for owners of Sony consoles.
The European Commission’s main concerns relate to the fact that after the deal closes, Microsoft could restrict competitors’ access to popular Activision Blizzard franchises, mainly Call of Duty games. In addition to the European Union, the deal between Microsoft and Blizzard is under scrutiny by industry regulators in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. The takeover in Brazil and Saudi Arabia is currently approved.