EU antitrust regulators already worried about ‘reduced competition,’ open full review of Microsoft’s Activision acquisition

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Microsoft faces another hurdle as EU antitrust regulators join the fray of anticompetitive legislating bodies reviewing its massive $68B Activision Blizzard acquisition bid.

While it might seem like a bit of a déjà vu for folks in the states to hear that a European regulatory body is investigating Microsoft’s proposed Acquistion of Activision Blizzard, the EU is still a bit different from the UK, which is also conducting a secondary review of the bid.

According to Reuters, the EU’s antitrust regulatory body issued the following statement,

The Commission’s preliminary investigation shows that the transaction may significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multigame subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems.

In particular, the Commission is concerned that, by acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft may foreclose access to Activision Blizzard’s console and PC video games, especially to high-profile and highly successful games (so-called ‘AAA’ games) such as ‘Call of Duty’.

As an opening to this investigation, the EU’s language is seeming rhetorically harsher and more critical of previous anticompetitive regulators, including the UK’s, which Microsoft argues is using explicit Sony talking points when issuing statements of criticism.

Microsoft and the EU have done the anticompetitive dance a few times before which has resulted in fines, software changes and injunctions for Microsoft in the past.

While Microsoft still has to clear the UK’s secondary review its acquisition proposal, the EU’s antitrust regulatory review may be its toughest challenge to date.