The EU has now moved its final decision for the Microsoft – Activision deal to May 22, 2023.
As reported by Reuters, this follows Microsoft’s offer of remedies to the European Commission.
Now, you may have noticed that the EU has not been as forthcoming on information about their investigation of this deal as the FTC or the UK’s CMA has been. It’s simply a matter of differing policy not to make these disclosures.
It was notable that shortly after deciding to start investigations, EU had to make clarifications after one of their employees made glib claims online that they would block the deal to favor Sony fans.
The EU’s silence has continued to be the subject of speculation during the duration of this investigation. Some rumor started spreading early this year that the FTC moved to sue Microsoft, because they expected the EU to approve the deal, and wanted to pre-empt them.
A few days after that, Microsoft accused Sony’s Jim Ryan of lying to the EU about their Call of Duty deal. This has now become front and center of the investigation at the moment, as Sony then accused Microsoft of adding provisions in that deal that would harm their business.
Microsoft’s offer of remedies are simply, the growing number of deals that they have made with competitors for Call of Duty, with the possibility of Activision and Blizzard games to follow. To date, Microsoft has penned deals with Nintendo, Nvidia for GeForce Now, Boosteroid, and Ubitus. They also tried to put a commitment in writing for Valve’s Steam marketplace, but Valve turned it down because they believed Microsoft would follow through without requiring a contract.
Microsoft also stated that they would not accept the proposed remedy to spin off Call of Duty or Activision. This was a proposal made to them by the UK CMA, not the EU, but of course Microsoft is making it clear they are saying the same things to all the regulators.
As things stand, the UK CMA will make their decision on the Microsoft – Activision deal on April 26, 2023. The FTC’s deadline for Complaint Counsel to provide expert witness reports is May 12, 2023. Then, the EU releases their decision one month later on May 22, 2023.
Finally, Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappel will conduct the hearing for the FTC case vs Microsoft on August 2, 2023. This means Microsoft can claim they can get approval for the deal at May 22, 2023 at the earliest, regardless of the outcome of the FTC lawsuit.