Microsoft has a chance to argue his case to buy Activision before the antitrust authorities of the European Union.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will make a “last ditch effort” to defend its offer at a closed hearing in Brussels tomorrow (February 21), Reuters reported. The company will oppose the statement of objections from the European Commission warning that the deal was anti-competitive.
Senior executives from Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and Sony, as well as representatives from Google, Nvidia, Electronic Arts and Valve, are expected to appear at the closed hearing, according to the MLex information service.
Last year, Microsoft announced a $68.7 billion agreement to buy the maker behind titles such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, To watch, and mobile gaming Candy Crush, in a bid to better compete with big publishers like Tencent and Sony.
However, the deal caught the eye of antitrust authorities everywhere because it wasn’t just a horizontal deal, consolidating players in an industry. It was a vertical game, where Microsoft would get more control over the total video game offering – games it could make exclusive to its Xbbeef console.
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While the US Federal Trade Commission has sued to block the takeover and the UK has expressed concern, EU regulators seem to have taken the lead in scrutinizing the deal.
Timeline of antitrust backlash for the Microsoft-Activision deal
Jan. 18, 2022: Microsoft announce plans to acquire Activision Blizzard
July 6, 2022: Launch of the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) a probe
August 3, 2022: Rival Sony repels on the potential deal, saying that games like Call of Duty are “essential” and even influence people’s console buying decisions.
September 2, 2022: The edge reports This Xbox chief Phil Spencer has pledged to PlayStation boss Jim Ryan in a written letter that Call of Duty would remain on the PlayStation storefront for “several years” even if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved.
September 7, 2022: The big boss of Playstation, Jim ryan calls “inadequate” Microsoft’s offer to retain Call of Duty on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement expires.
November 28, 2022: Reuters reports that Microsoft will offer”concessionsto the European Commission, including a 10-year license agreement with Sony.
December 5, 2022: In an op-ed, Microsoft President Brad Smith confirms Microsoft offered Sony a 10 year contract TO DO Call of Duty games available on PlayStation at the same time as their release on Xbox if the Redmond company finalizes its plan to acquire Activision Blizzard, which Sony has rejected.
December 7, 2022: Microsoft makes A 10 year contract with Nintendo to make Call of Duty available on the Kyoto-based company’s consoles, including Switch, and says it’s committed to making the first-person shooter video game franchise available on Valve’s Steam online gaming platform Software. But these partners are too small to convince regulators.
December 8, 2022: The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announces he will sue to block Acquisition of Activision by Microsoft. If approved, the deal “will allow Microsoft to remove competitors from its Xbox game consoles and rapidly growing subscription content and cloud gaming business,” the FTC claims.
December 20, 2022: A group of players sue Microsoft to block the deal, saying it would give Microsoft “inordinate market power” and “the ability to squeeze out rivals, limit production, reduce consumer choice, raise prices and to further impede competition”.
February 1, 2023: Microsoft receives a formal Statement of Objections of the European Commission
February 8, 2023: In the UK, the CMA provisionally reports “vscompetition concerns” about the merger. He suggests that, to gain approval, Activision Blizzard should sell THE Call of Duty part of its activity first.
April 11, 2023: The European Commission deadline for ruling on whether to allow the agreement with or without conditions, or to block it entirely.
June 2023: Date Microsoft hopes seal the deal.
Quote: What will happen after Microsoft’s hearing by the European Commission?
“A merger hearing is very similar to a trial, but it is not public. A decision is not announced immediately, but the case team working on that particular merger review may state their recommendation (for example, whether the agreement should be cleared unconditionally, with conditions, or not at all) […] Reaching an agreement with the European Commission, one of the world’s most respected antitrust authorities, could be a tipping point and lead to settlements in other jurisdictions. –Florian Mullerapp developer and intellectual property activist
Charted: Microsoft’s acquisitions that flew under the antitrust radar
There was a time when Microsoft antitrust issues were numerous. But in recent years, the software giant focus on business software allowed him to pass largely under the regulatory radar. NOTone of his previous acquisitions matched the magnitude of the Activision deal.
Why Regulators Care Call of Duty, by the numbers
425 million: Lifetime unit sales for the Call of Duty franchise
$30 billion: Call of Duty series lifetime earnings
125 million: Players registered for CoD: Warzone since its launch in March 2020
650 million: Downloads Call of Duty: Mobile has generated since its launch in 2019
3,000: The people working on the Call of Duty franchise
3-5 years: How long each version takes to develop
Over $300 million: Budget for each version
👑 Microsoft offered to share Activision’s crown jewel to advance $68.7 billion buyout
🤝 Microsoft’s Activision deal puts it back in the US antitrust crosshairs
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