Call Of Duty: Warzone 2.0 – what is this, a bad action movie? (Picture: Activision)
As Microsoft officially lodges its appeal against the CMA, the EU explains why it disagrees with the UK over the Activision Blizzard deal.
After the initial shock of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) decision to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the European Commission settled the waters by approving it, on the condition that Microsoft allow Activision Blizzard games to launch on rival cloud services.
That wasn’t unexpected but it still left the CMA as an outlier, as it faces mounting pressure from not just Microsoft but MPs too, fearful of the UK looking unwelcoming to big businesses.
Given the disparity in opinion, the European Commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager has explained their reasoning for approving the deal, calling it their own ‘Call Of Duty.’
Despite the awful one liner, Vestager makes it clear that the commission is well aware of the magnitude of the acquisition and their decision was not made lightly. However, they believe it is both ‘compatible with the Single Market’ and ‘represents a positive development.’
The commission corroborates Microsoft’s insistence that it has less control in the gaming market than Sony and its PlayStation business, particularly in Europe. She adds that Sony sells four times as many PlayStation consoles than Microsoft sells Xbox consoles.
She also touches upon Call Of Duty’s popularity, concluding that Microsoft has no reason to remove it from the PlayStation platform as Sony may fear. This is something that the CMA agrees with, since its main issue is with Microsoft potentially gaining too much control of the cloud gaming space.
Vestager admits they had concerns regarding cloud gaming too, but Microsoft’s concessions are more than enough to put those at ease.
Despite the disagreements, she does talk up the importance of cooperating with other regulators, concluding that their mission is to ‘find solutions that keep the game fair for all players, and working closely together with sister agencies as we do so. That is our Call Of Duty.’
We’re sure that last line sounded much cooler in her head but it’s so painfully cringey that it makes you wonder how seriously they’re taking all this. You can read the full keynote speech for yourself on the European Commission’s website.
As it stands, US regulator the Federal Trade Commission has yet to reach a decision but is the only one besides the CMA to be unenthused with the acquisition, having filed a still unresolved lawsuit to block it.
However, the EU’s approval makes its arguments a lot harder, and the CMA could wind up reversing its decision if Microsoft’s appeal proves successful.
Microsoft formally filed it with the Competition Appeal Tribunal this week, although the process could take as long as nine months, stretching this debacle even further and putting Microsoft’s goals of finalising the deal this year into jeopardy.
Is Activision even willing to wait another nine months? …read more