November 9, 2022

European Commission examines implications of proposed Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard

On November 8, 2022, the European Commission announced that it had opened an in-depth (Phase II) investigation into the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc. by Microsoft Corporation.  The proposed transaction was notified to the Commission on September 30, 2022.

Microsoft, a global technology company headquartered in the state of Washington in the United States, develops, publishes and distributes games for personal computers, game consoles and mobile devices, and offers Xbox gaming consoles.  Activision Blizzard, headquartered in California, is also in the business of developing, publishing and distributing games.  Following a preliminary investigation, the Commission found that Microsoft could potentially have both the ability and the economic incentive to foreclose or limit access to Activision Blizzard’s console and PC video games.  The Commission expressed concern that the acquisition could significantly reduce competition in markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, and that Microsoft could foreclose access to its own PC and console video games, to the detriment of rival distributors.  In the market for PC operating systems, the Commission noted its concern that Microsoft could limit the ability of rival PC operating systems to compete with Microsoft Windows by combining access to Activision Blizzard’s games with distribution of cloud game streaming services on Windows, as this might ultimately discourage consumers from purchasing non-Windows PCs.

The Commission has 90 working days to make a decision about the proposed transaction.

EC press release