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Thursday, May 18, 2023

European Commission Approves Microsoft Acquisition of Activision

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - How does it feel to pass a hurdle only after you got a Game Over?

In a rare example of good news coming out of the European Union, the European Commission (EC) has approved of Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard King. This follows how last month, the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal. What does this mean? ...Well, unless Microsoft wants to just stop doing business in the UK, they still don't get to acquire Activision. Remember, the UK isn't part of the European Union anymore, so it's not like the EU actually has a say in what goes on in the UK. (Or vice-versa.) Though they both have a say in what Microsoft gets to do.

Like the CMA, the EC doesn't see a threat to the console market if Microsoft were to acquire Activision Blizzard King, and they believe that the likes of Call of Duty would still be available on the PlayStation (which is the market leader in Europe). Even if Call of Duty were to disappear, Sony has enough resources to be able to compete against that. I'm glad that they agree with me on this sensible point. The EC also acknowledges that Activision has no plans to make their games available on subscription or cloud services without Microsoft forcing them to (which could only happen if the acquisition went through), contrary to the CMA just fabricating said plan up to justify rejecting the deal.

Like the CMA, the EC did see trouble in the sky for the cloud game streaming service market, believing that Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard would make Microsoft too dominant a leader in this nascent market (that is, as of now, pretty much irrelevant). However, unlike the CMA, the EC accepted Microsoft's proposed remedy of making Activision games streamable on competing cloud service providers platforms, and that also means that competing cloud streaming service providers have that licence to offer those games. The CMA refused to consider this remedy for hysterical reasons over how it'd be implemented and regulated, but the EC was fine with it. The European Commission has agreed to supervise an independent person to monitor this, which the UK was too lazy to do (despite it being at Microsoft's expense). The EC also provided this confusing graphic of their own creation:

European Commission Union Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition diagram cloud game streaming
Using a New Super Mario Bros.-esque graphics to represent Activision Blizzard games gives the same energy as Chinese bootleggers using Among Us crewmates to represent a classic Super Mario Bros. game setting.
Except this graphic was made by the European Commission, not some scammer.
Also, I know the bottom of those two controllers is supposed to be a generic DualShock 2, but what about the top one? It reminds me of a Wii Classic Controller, but with the buttons and D-pad reversed. I hate it.

Microsoft's remedy of making Activision Blizzard games available on cloud streaming services beyond Game Pass Ultimate will extend outside of the European Union and to the whole planet... assuming the deal actually gets to go through. (It's unclear who will monitor the implementation of this on a global scale.)

Microsoft is working on getting their appeal to the CMA up, though the CMA stands by their decision. The CMA's tortured logic is that because Microsoft's proposed remedy to being a dominant player involves regulation to make sure that Microsoft is making Activision games available to every cloud gaming service provider that wants to provide them, that would make the cloud gaming market un-free, anti-competitive, and restrictive of choice. But by preventing any Activision game from being available for cloud streaming (because Activision has made it very clear that if they get to remain an independent company, they will not make their games available for cloud streaming), this will benefit the cloud gaming market.

...Huh? How is making a choice unavailable driving innovation and choice? How is reducing investment in cloud services helping that market? Why does the CMA believe that Activision games are what would make or break the success of the cloud gaming industry? And are they forgetting that Microsoft's cloud competitors, like NVIDIA, want this deal to pass?

Maybe I shouldn't have supported Brexit...? (Nah, let's not go that far.)

KoopaTV probably won't have the opportunity to discuss further developments of this story, given the site's upcoming lack of new content after July, and the relatively slow speed of governmental body regulatory activity. Do you think the EC is in the right and the CMA is wrong? Or maybe the other way around? Are you fretting over Microsoft having a monopoly over cloud gaming!?


  1. The image is confusing but for better or for worse I hope this allots to Activision getting their act together. Too many of these gaming companies/media out of line in the past few years. Too many shenanigans. I'm not sure what Activision's biggest hits are now but hopefully Microsoft doesn't try to shelf them like they have to do many other of their IP purchases.

    1. According to Sony and regulatory bodies, the only product of worth Activision has is the Call of Duty series, though I know Microsoft feels differently.

    2. Does activision own SPORE now? I don't know if you ever played that game but I always thought it was real innovative. Still, much like the SIMS, there isn't too much you can do for a sequel game. Other than endless dlc purchases of course. I haven't played much COD but it's not really for me. Seems to be the same thing for every game, but you could say the same for most of the recent 2d Mario's.


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