While we wait for CMA’s decision hopefully leading to approval of the Microsoft – Activision deal, we have an update on the situation for the deal in the EU.
As reported by Tom Warren for The Verge, the EU has decided not to restart an investigation into the deal, after Microsoft made revisions for it to appease the CMA.
The EU approved the original deal with no reservations, expressing the opinion that the deal would be good for business in Europe, and that it would also be good for the whole world.
The EU is one of three major regulators who could have blocked the deal, alongside the FTC and the CMA. By approving the deal, the EU joined the majority opinion of most other regulators in other countries, regions, and business markets.
However, the reason the EU was considering reinvestigating the deal was the revision. Microsoft now offered Ubisoft to be added to the deal, as the arbiter for the cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard’s games.
EU’s concern was real, as they would theoretically now have to consider if Ubisoft’s addition would change the deal significantly that they should have to reconsider their approval.
Fortunately for Microsoft and Activision, the EU’s decision was not to pursue this investigation. This is likely because Microsoft communicated that the Ubisoft revision would not apply in the EU. Microsoft already has commitments with several other European game companies, and so they cannot take back those deals.
For those who don’t remember, those game companies are Ubitus and Boosteroid, both European based cloud gaming companies who stand to benefit from the deal, as they will get access to Activision Blizzard’s games.
What the revision does do is it changes the terms for other countries, which could include the US. Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that Ubisoft itself is based in France, and that may be part of the reason for the EU’s interest.
While the EU seemed inclined to allow Microsoft to do business, it may seem that they were likely to approve the deal if they restarted their investigation. But that would actually still harm Microsoft.
That, of course, is because Microsoft and Activision already have a set deadline for this coming October 18, 2023. The CMA would tender in their final decision before that, and if the CMA approved the deal, then the EU would actually be the one holding them up from finalizing it.
Now, all eyes await for when the CMA gives the deal their final approval, and when Microsoft and Activision themselves close the deal.