European Commission gives nod to Microsoft Activision deal

European Commission gives nod to Microsoft Activision deal

The European Commission (EC) has approved Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In a post on its website, the government body said that despite initially believing that the deal would have a negative impact on the games market, the body has come around to Microsoft's line of reasoning. Specifically, the EC agrees that Microsoft doesn't have any incentive to stop releasing titles such as Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles in the European Economic Area (EEA) as Sony has a much larger audience in the region than Xbox.

The European Commission also shared concerns with other competition regulators surrounding the burgeoning cloud games space – agreeing that Microsoft already has a dominant position in this new but potentially lucrative space. These anxieties have been alleviated by the Xbox giant agreeing to allow consumers to stream Activision Blizzard's PC and console titles on any streaming service in the EEA.

"Video games attract billions of users all over the world," the European Commission's EVP of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said.

"In such a fast-growing and dynamic industry, it is crucial to protect competition and innovation. 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. 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."

In a post on Twitter, Microsoft president Brad Smith added: "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."

With Europe weighing in on the deal, there are now two more top-level competition bodies left to approve the deal. The US Federal Trade Commission is suing to block the acquisition, while the UK's Competition and Markets Authority has blocked the deal.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.