EU Commission Launches New Probe into Microsoft Merger with Activision Blizzard
The European Commission has begun a new phase in their review of the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft,
opening an in-depth investigation
to assess whether the merger may reduce market competition or foreclose access to high profile games.
Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge on competition policy
“Video games attract billions of users all over the world and are among the fastest growing forms of digital entertainment. For years, Microsoft has been a major player across the gaming supply chain. It is acquiring Activision Blizzard, a highly successful producer of gaming content. We must ensure that opportunities remain for future and existing distributors of PC and console video games, as well as for rival suppliers of PC operating systems. The point is to ensure that the gaming ecosystem remains vibrant to the benefit of users in a sector that is evolving at a fast pace. Our in-depth investigation will assess how the deal affects the gaming supply chain.“
The Commission now has 90 working days to take a decision by March 23, though
recent statements from Activision Blizzard
maintain that the merger is still on track to complete by June 2023, and the
Washington Post quotes Microsoft
spokesperson David Cuddy allaying concerns:
The Washington Post
“We’re continuing to work with the European Commission on next steps and to address any valid marketplace concerns,” Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy told The Washington Post. “Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less.”
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick also released a
letter to employees
, citing increased scrutiny due to the growing games industry, and stating that the company was actively engaged with regulators to answer their questions and provide information to assist with their review.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
I wanted to take a moment out of our successful, busy launch season to provide an update on our progress towards the completion of our merger with Microsoft. With increased competition globally from companies with huge talent pools and resources, becoming part of a company with access to talent around the world will help us fill the thousands of open positions we will have over the next few years.
We have been, and will be, in fierce competition to attract and retain the talent we need to create content that will meet the demands of our growing audiences. Being a part of Microsoft will help us better realize our ambitions and satisfy the high standards of our audiences.
As we said when we announced our merger, this is a long process. We have already received approvals from countries including Brazil. After a close review of the transaction, the Brazilian authority arrived at the understanding that we operate in a highly dynamic and competitive industry, and that the merger will not harm competition in any way.
We continue to work cooperatively with regulators in other jurisdictions, and the process is moving along as we expected. Because so many large global companies across the world are now competing in the nearly $200 billion dollar games industry, it’s understandable that regulators are trying to better understand the games business. This week the European Commission announced that we have entered the second phase of our review in the region. We will continue to cooperate with the European Commission where, in the countries they represent, we have many employees. We have been working closely with Microsoft to actively engage regulators in other key countries to answer their questions and provide them with information to assist with their review. People from across our business units and functions have been involved in this regulatory work, and I want to thank each of you for your tireless work and commitment to completing this merger, which we continue to expect to close in Microsoft’s current fiscal year ending June 2023.
We remain excited about the great games we continue to release, the growth we expect greater industry investment from so many companies will generate, and completing the merger with Microsoft so we can better compete.
Thank you, for your passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to excellence.
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