Microsoft’s Activision deal expected to clear EU regulatory investigation

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Despite the proverbial leg sweep two weeks ago by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the EU Commission is expected to rule in favor of the two merging, as soon as next week.

According to a Reuters report, “EU antitrust regulators are set to approve Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) $69 billion acquisition of Activision (ATVI.O) next week, with May 15 as the likeliest date, people familiar with the matter said.”

The European Commission’s decision to clear the deal may be in part due to several licensing deals Microsoft entered into with various cloud gaming platforms leading up to and during its investigatory period. Unlike the UK, the EU may be more focused on present market trends and market share rather than potential outcomes.

During the investigation Microsoft entered into licensing agreements with Nintendo, NVIDIA, Ukrainian-based cloud gaming platforms Boosteroid, Japan-based Ubitus cloud streaming platform, as well as commitment with Steam to bring Call of Duty and other Activision games to competing businesses.

While the UK’s CMA pivoted its investigative scope away from specific games, the EU may be content with keeping its eye on the expansion of gaming in the region.

The EU has until May 22, 2023 to finalize its ruling in the Microsoft and Activision deal. While it seems likely for the commission to clear the deal, it should be noted that the CMA also seemed prepared to make a similar judgment after it pivoted away from scrutinizing Call of Duty as a leveraging tool for Microsoft, and ultimately blocked the deal citing “reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers.”