The European Commission has today confirmed its approved Microsoft's proposed $69 billion purchase of Call of Duty maker Activision. Having addressed concerns in the cloud gaming space, the EU Commission rules Microsoft's 10-year commitments to "represent a significant improvement for cloud gaming as compared to the current situation". As such, it gives the deal the go-ahead.
Based on an "in-depth market investigation", the EU Commission concluded that "Microsoft would have no incentive to refuse to distribute Activision's games to Sony, which is the leading distributor of console games worldwide, including in the European Economic Area (‘EEA') where there are four Sony PlayStation consoles for every Microsoft Xbox console bought by gamers." In addition, "even if Microsoft did decide to withdraw Activision's games from the PlayStation, this would not significantly harm competition in the consoles market."
In a press release, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said: "Video games attract billions of users all over the world. 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."
Of course, approval from the EU Commission goes against what the UK CMA argued as it moved to block Microsoft's big deal. "Cloud gaming needs a free, competitive market to drive innovation and choice," it said last month. "Allowing Microsoft to take such a strong position in the cloud gaming market just as it begins to grow rapidly would risk undermining the innovation that is crucial to the development of these opportunities."
However, the EU Commission feels this has been addressed through free license to use "any cloud game streaming services of their [the consumer's] choice, [to stream] all current and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games for which they have a license". In addition, Microsoft is offering a "free license to cloud game streaming service providers to allow EEA-based gamers to stream any Activision Blizzard's PC and console games.".