Things are looking bleak for Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The $68.7 billion deal is likely to be opposed by the European Commission.
Reports indicate that the landmark deal involving one of the biggest game developers in the industry will be facing a major setback. According to Reuters, the European Commission is set to issue a "statement of objections" stating its concerns about the massive deal. The charge sheet will be sent to Microsoft in the coming weeks.
Microsoft made a statement regarding the EU Commission’s objection to the deal. The tech giant may be offering concessions for the deal to push through.
"We're continuing to work with the European Commission to address any marketplace concerns," the statements said. "Our goal is to bring more games to more people, and this deal will further that goal."
The EU is reportedly not open to discussing remedies before the charge sheet has been served. However, informal talks on concessions are being conducted according to sources.
Throughout the investigations, Microsoft has repeatedly offered a ten-year deal to Sony to keep the Call of Duty series on the platform in a bid to remedy the situation. The tech giant even went as far as offering to add the game to PS Plus. Microsoft also extended the deal to Nintendo and Valve’s Steam storefront.
The US FTC and UK CMA have also voiced concerns about the deal. The FTC recently filed a lawsuit to block the acquisition stating that the deal may give Microsoft unfair advantages and stifle competition. The trial will begin in August 2023 if the parties do not reach a settlement.
The UK CMA has opened an in-depth investigation into the merger. The regulatory body has extended its own deadline until April 26 this year, to finalize its report on the investigation. The CMA is reportedly due to provide Microsoft and Activision Blizzard with its initial finding by the middle of February.
Recently, Nvidia and Google reached out to the Federal Trade Commission to express their concerns about the acquisition. Nvidia drove home the importance of "equal and open access" to games such as Call of Duty, Diablo 4, and Overwatch.
Google, for its part, may be concerned about Microsoft’s plans to expand to mobile gaming as Activision Blizzard owns Candy Crush maker King. Microsoft intends to start an Xbox Mobile gaming store which would be in direct competition with Google Play Store.
Microsoft is liable to pay a hefty fine if the deal fails. The deadline for completion of the merger is in July before Microsoft and Activision need to renegotiate.
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