Microsoft-Activision-Blizzard £55bn merger gets EU approval – despite UK rejection Tech News

A mega-merger worth $68.7bn (£55bn) between Microsoft and games developer Activision Blizzard has been approved by the European Union, just weeks after it was blocked by the UK.

European regulators said they accepted Microsoft’s pledge that its proposed takeover of the developer behind “Call of Duty” would not reduce competition.

In April, UK regulators expressed concern about stifling competition In gaming, Microsoft said it would appeal the decision.

“Video games attract billions of users around the world. In such a fast-growing and dynamic industry, it is crucial to protect competition and innovation,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

“Our decision represents an important step in this direction, bringing Activision’s hit titles to more devices and consumers than ever before through cloud game streaming.

“Microsoft’s commitment will enable streaming of such games for the first time in any cloud game streaming service, strengthening competition and growth opportunities.”

The company, one of the largest technology companies in the world, makes the Xbox, which accounts for 70% of cloud gaming services, which allow people to play games online without downloading them.

In response, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: “EC went through an extremely thorough and thoughtful process to get a complete picture of the game.

“As a result, they approved our merger with Microsoft, although they demanded stringent remedial measures to ensure robust competition in our fast-growing industry.”

“We intend to meaningfully expand our investment and workforce across the EU, and we are delighted that our deal brings benefits to players in Europe and around the world.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith said: “The European Commission has asked Microsoft to automatically license popular Activision Blizzard titles to competing cloud gaming services.

“This will work globally and will enable millions of consumers around the world to play these games on any device they choose.”

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UK watchdog stands by its decision

Sarah Caddell, chief executive of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, said: “The UK, US and European competition authorities agree that this merger will harm competition in cloud gaming. The CMA has concluded that cloud gaming needs to continue as a freedom , competitive markets driving innovation and choice in this rapidly evolving industry.

“The Microsoft proposal accepted by the European Commission today will allow Microsoft to set the terms and conditions for this market for the next decade.

“They will replace a free, open and competitive market with one that is subject to continuous regulation by Microsoft for the sale of games, the platforms on which they are sold and the conditions of sale. This is one of the reasons why the CMA’s independent panel rejected Microsoft’s proposal and blocked the deal .

“While we recognize and respect the European Commission’s right to take a different view, the CMA stands by its decision.”

Although the company has EU approval, being rejected by the CMA means they will need to seek approval operating there in the UK.

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