Pending any last-minute surprises, it sounds like the European Commission is going to give Microsoft the go-ahead for its proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
As reported by Reuters, three sources familiar with the matter have told the outlet that the EU will approve the deal due to Microsoft’s willingness to offer licensing deals to rivals. The commission is likely referring to the company’s recent announcements that at least some Xbox games will be available on Nvidia’s GeForce cloud gaming service and its commitment to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo for the next 10 years.
The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by April 25, is not expected to demand that Microsoft sell assets to win its approval, the people said.
In addition to the licensing deals for rivals, Microsoft may also have to offer other behavioural remedies to allay concerns of other parties than Sony, one of the people said. Such remedies typically refer to the future conduct of the merged company.
In response to the report, a spokesperson for Microsoft said that “our commitment to grant long-term 100% equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Steam, NVIDIA, and others preserves the deal’s benefits to gamers and developers and increases competition in the market.” They added that the company was “committed to offering effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the European Commission’s concerns.”
While Microsoft is seemingly set to clear the hurdle with the EU, it still faces similar potential blockages in the United Kingdom and the United States. The FTC in the U.S. officially sued to block the acquisition a few months ago, and that case is still ongoing. Nvidia had actually joined in the campaign against the acquisition at one point but then changed its tune once it made the deal to bring some Xbox for PC titles to its cloud gaming platform.
If Microsoft clears the other hurdles and completes the acquisition, it will not only own Call of Duty but Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft as well.