EU opens antitrust probe into Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard

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The European Commission said on Tuesday (November 8) that an in-depth antitrust probe has been opened into Microsoft’s bid to buy video games developer Activision Blizzard. 

It was expected that the EU would take time to examine and investigate the deal because of its size and the rising concerns from rivals. 

In a statement, it said that the probe is because “the proposed acquisition may reduce competition in the markets for the distribution of console and personal computers video games and for PC operating systems.” 

The probe will look into the effects of the takeover “to determine whether its initial competition concerns are confirmed”, the commission said. 

“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’,” it said. 

In September, media reports stated that Microsoft’s deal to buy Activision Blizzard might face an investigation in Brussels and the United Kingdom. Activision Blizzard makes the blockbuster “Call of Duty” game. 

And concerns were raised after reports emerged that Microsoft’s $75 billion acquisition of the video game maker is apparently anti-competitive and will exclude rivals from accessing the popular game. 

Microsoft apparently did not opt to offer any remedies to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) because there were no commitments the UK regulator would be likely to accept. 

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In September, the CMA said that the takeover of the “Call of Duty” maker could hurt competition in gaming consoles, subscription services and cloud gaming in case Microsoft denies giving competitors access to Activision’s best-selling games. 

A similar accusation was made by Sony. It said Microsoft is misleading the gaming industry and regulators about its commitments to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles. 

Sony had said that Microsoft only offered to keep releasing Activision’s hit game on PlayStation for a limited number of years. 

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