EU regulators have given their approval to Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, just weeks after UK regulators rejected the deal. The acquisition can be approved, according to the European Commission, because of Microsoft’s cloud gaming obligations.
The EU found that Microsoft “would have no incentive to refuse to distribute Activision’s games to Sony” and that “even if Microsoft did decide to withdraw Activision’s games from the PlayStation, this would not significantly harm competition in the consoles market.”
But EU regulators, much like the UK, did find the acquisition could harm competition around the distribution of PC and console games through cloud gaming services.
Through 10-year licensing agreements that Microsoft has made available to rivals, the European Commission has identified solutions to enable the deal to move forward. These include a free license that would permit customers in EU nations to stream any current and upcoming Activision Blizzard PC and console games that they hold a license for using “any cloud game streaming services of their choice.” Additionally, a free license to stream these games in EU markets will be provided to cloud service providers.
Also read : Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal blocked by UK regulators
These licenses are automatic, and they grant users the permission to stream Activision Blizzard games they have bought or subscribed to on “any cloud game streaming service of their choice and play them on any device using any operating system.” It appears that Microsoft will now apply this automatic license globally after the European Commission requested it.
The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services. This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) May 15, 2023
“Our decision represents an important step in this direction, by bringing Activision’s popular games to many more devices and consumers than before thanks to cloud game streaming,” says Margrethe Vestager, executive VP in charge of competition policy at the European Commission. “The commitments offered by Microsoft will enable for the first time the streaming of such games in any cloud game streaming services, enhancing competition and opportunities for growth.”