Microsoft scheduled to defend Activision deal at EU hearing

This will be the tech giant's final chance to defend the landmark deal in front of EU antitrust regulators.

Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been challenged by antitrust regulators from the US, UK, and EU. The European Union Commission recently sent a statement of objection against the deal, listing several red flags and issues that need to be addressed by the parties involved, and now the company is set to defend the deal.

Microsoft Scheduled To Defend Activision Deal At Eu Hearing
Microsoft will defend its acquisition of Activision Blizzard in an oral hearing in front of EU antitrust regulators.

Reuters reports that Microsoft will have a final chance to defend its $69 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, publisher of the wildly popular Call of Duty franchise among other industry leading IPs. The closed-door hearing will take place on February 21 and will be attended by EU and national antitrust officials.

The company requested a hearing after receiving a statement of objection from the EU Commission regarding the deal. The antitrust regulators found that the merger had possible anti-competitiveness effects. A spokesperson for Microsoft confirmed that the oral hearing will take place next week.

Microsoft Scheduled To Defend Activision Deal At Eu Hearing
Microsoft is expected to offer remedies to help alleviate antitrust concerns.

Microsoft is expected to address the concerns of the EU regulators and offer concessions. The tech giant has previously expressed its willingness to work with antitrust regulators to help the deal push through.

"We're continuing to work with the European Commission to address any marketplace concerns," Microsoft said in a statement after receiving the statement of objection. "Our goal is to bring more games to more people, and this deal will further that goal."

Sony initially voiced concerns over the deal, saying that Microsoft intends to make the Call of Duty franchise an exclusive title after the current deal between Activision and PlayStation expires. Microsoft made an initial offer of a three-year extension which Sony declined.

Microsoft, for its part, has said that it would not make commercial sense to make Call of Duty an exclusive title. The company later offered a new ten-year deal to Sony to keep the Call of Duty franchise available on the platform. Microsoft also tried to sweeten the deal by making the popular first-person shooter available on the PS Plus subscription service.

Microsoft Scheduled To Defend Activision Deal At Eu Hearing
The EU Commission has until April 11 to decide on the fate of the merger.

However, it was recently revealed by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick that Sony has stopped talking to both parties. Kotick went on to accuse Sony of trying to sabotage the deal by not returning phone calls.

Kotick, specifically, has been at the center of the swirling controversies around Activision Blizzard's gross mistreatment of employees, and was involved in investigations regarding harassment, abuse and even death threats. The company recently revealed Kotick would remain in the CEO position.

Sony denied that it was not speaking with Activision Blizzard and Microsoft. The PlayStation manufacturer said that it was speaking with Microsoft regarding the deal but declined to divulge what has been discussed.

Earlier this week, Sony said that Microsoft was requesting too much information, including emails from certain Sony executives. Sony said that it was "obvious harassment" and that "even in employment cases courts require a specific showing of relevance before requiring production of personnel files."

The EU Commission will have until April 11, 2023, to decide on the merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

Darryl Lara

Darryl has been gaming since the early 90s, loves to read books and watch TV. He spends his free time outside of gaming and books by riding his motorcycle and taking photographs. You can find Darryl on Instagram. Check him out on Steam and Xbox too.