EU Antitrust Regulators Extend Deadline for Verdict on Microsoft’s $69 Billion Activision Deal to April 25


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EU antitrust regulators have extended their deadline for a decision on Microsoft’s $69 billion (roughly Rs. 5,71,800 crore) acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision to April 25, according to a European Commission filing on Wednesday.

The Xbox maker announced the Activision Blizzard deal in January last year to help it compete better with leaders Tencent and Sony but has encountered regulatory hurdles in Europe, Britain and the United States.

It is expected to offer remedies to the EU competition enforcer soon.

Last month, Microsoft struck a 10-year deal to bring Call of Duty and other Activision games to Nvidia’s gaming platform if the Xbox maker is allowed to complete its much-contested $69 billion acquisition of Activision.

Regulators and competitors like Sony have come out hard against the proposed Microsoft-Activision tie-up. The move may allay concerns by ensuring more ways for consumers to get games controlled by Microsoft, but regulators around the world have been sceptical about the acquisition.

Britain, earlier in February, said the deal could harm gamers by weakening the rivalry between Xbox and PlayStation, resulting in higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation for millions of players, as well as stifling competition in cloud gaming.

Sony has led opposition to the Microsoft-Activision deal, saying last year it was “bad for competition, bad for the gaming industry, and bad for gamers themselves.”

Apart from Sony and Nvidia, other companies including Alphabet’s Google had expressed concerns to the FTC about the deal, according to media reports.

Microsoft has pledged to keep Call of Duty on Sony’s PlayStation. The popularity of the first-person shooter franchise is undimmed nearly two decades after launch, with the latest instalment achieving $1 billion in sales in its first 10 days in October.

The US tech giant has said the deal is about more than Call of Duty. It has said buying the company that also makes Overwatch and Candy Crush would charge its growth in mobile, PC, and cloud gaming, as well as consoles, helping it compete with the likes of Tencent as well as Sony.

Last month, Microsoft President Brad Smith sought to convince EU antitrust regulators at a closed hearing that the company’s bid for Activision Blizzard would boost competition.

Smith led a delegation of 18 senior executives, including Microsoft Gaming Chief Executive Officer Phil Spencer, while Activision was represented by its CEO Robert Kotick, a European Commission document seen by Reuters showed.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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