Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard received a major boost on Monday after the European Commission approved the deal. The EU watchdog passed the deal on the grounds that Microsoft made a 10-year commitment to offering its games on other platforms, particularly cloud gaming services.
Despite the European Commission’s approval, Microsoft still must hope that the decision to appeal the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) goes in its favour after the Britain watchdog vetoed its Activision acquisition. Microsoft is still batting with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States and has a pending court case.
“Video games attract billions of users all over the world. In such a fast-growing and dynamic industry, it is crucial to protect competition and innovation. Our decision represents an important step in this direction, by bringing Activision’s popular games to many more devices and consumers than before thanks to cloud game streaming,” the European Commission’s chief Margrethe Vestager said. “The commitments offered by Microsoft will enable for the first time the streaming of such games in any cloud game streaming services, enhancing competition and opportunities for growth.”
Microsoft’s 10-year deal with competitors includes a free license allowing consumers in the EU to stream via “any cloud game streaming services of their choice” all current and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games they own a license for. Microsoft also assured the EU watchdog that a free license would be provided to cloud providers to stream in the EU.
“The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services. This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.
Following the EU’s approval, the CMA wrote on Twitter that it stands by its decision to block the deal in the UK over cloud gaming services concerns. “Microsoft’s proposals, accepted by the European Commission today, would allow Microsoft to set the terms and conditions for this market for the next 10 years,” the CMA shared on Twitter. “They would replace a free, open and competitive market with one subject to ongoing regulation of the games Microsoft sells, the platforms to which it sells them and the conditions of sale.”
According to Reuters, Microsoft is determined to appeal the CMA’s decision to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but a ruling is expected to take months. Regulators in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Chile, Serbia, and South Africa have all approved the deal, but China, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia have yet to give their verdict.