South Korea has approved the Microsoft Activision deal for their country.
“The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) gave a green light on Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest deals of its kind in the gaming industry.
The regulator said Tuesday it gave unconditional approval of the $68.7 billion deal filed in April last year.
The financial watchdog said the acquisition would not harm the competition in the console gaming market due to the low market share of the games developed and distributed by the two firms in Korea.”
South Korea is a somewhat unique situation because video games are a large industry within the country, but that is mostly true for South Korean video game companies themselves.
We had reported many times on Krafton’s PUBG, the most successful South Korean game outside of the country. Subsequently, South Korean game companies like Krafton, Neowiz, and Pearl Abyss have been trying to make their mark in the global gaming market for years.
However, within Korea itself, they dominate Japanese and Western game studios. As revealed in this haps magazine article, two-thirds of Koreans play video games. The lead platforms in the country are mobile and online PC games, and not consoles.
Furthermore, there is a huge emphasis on esports in Korea. Most gaming, if not done on phones, happens in bangs, PC gaming cafes where you can rent out a computer by the hour. And so, instead of amassing Steam libraries of games, most Koreans play the most popular online free to play games.
Now, we don’t want to be misleading here. Of course, Koreans also play a lot of Blizzard’s games. Their Starcraft 2 scene had become famous nationwide in the 2000s. But, as this haps article noted, the Korean government itself had invested heavily to make Korean video game companies successful.
It is for these reasons that the Korean FTC can declare that both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King have low market share in the country.
As Florian Mueller has tracked, this makes South Korea the 39th country to approve the Microsoft Activision deal. If you were curious, Florian also replied to a follower that South Korea’s approval of the deal is not legally binding to the UK CMA or CAT in their own investigation and review of the deal. However, it does help politically, as it bolsters the case for the CAT to reject the CMA’s decision and force them to review the deal for approval.