May 15, 2023 - Technology

European Union approves Microsoft's $69 billion bid for Activision

Microsoft president Brad Smith at a news conference in February after a EU competition hearing on his company's planned purchase of Activision Blizzard. Photo: Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The European Union's competition commission has approved Microsoft's attempt to buy Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, the commission announced today.

Why it matters: The EU commission is one of three in the world considered by experts as essential to close the long-scrutinized deal.

  • U.K. regulators said last month that they would block the deal, though Microsoft has said it plans to appeal.
  • The U.S.'s Federal Trade Commission has sued to block the deal, with a trial set for summer.

Details: The commission said its approval is "conditional on full compliance" with commitments from Microsoft on its cloud gaming business.

  • Microsoft has announced multiple 10-year deals to ensure Activision's Call of Duty would be available on competing cloud gaming platforms
  • The commission says Microsoft has pledged to give European consumers a free license to stream all current and future Activision Blizzard games to "any cloud game streaming services of their choice" and will give a "corresponding free license" to cloud gaming providers.

Between the lines: Microsoft wants Activision Blizzard to bolster its gaming resources on console, PC and mobile.

  • But regulators have questioned whether ownership of Call of Duty would give the company an unfair advantage against more successful console rival Sony PlayStation or, as in the U.K.'s analysis, too strong a spot in the nascent cloud gaming scene, where users play games that are streamed to phones, tablets and other screens from remote servers.
  • The EU announced in November that it was investigating the deal over console and cloud competition concerns.

Be smart: Microsoft's bid for Activision Blizzard, announced in January of last year, expires in July, though the parties could try to extend it.

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