Microsoft’s $75 billion acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard is under thorough investigation in Brussels and the United Kingdom amid rising worries of anti-competitive risks. Sony is worried that the merger prevents rivals from accessing the hit game franchise Call of Duty.
According to two people familiar with the matter, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is poised to initiate an in-depth probe this week after Microsoft chose not to respond to concerns at this time.
The CMA became the world’s first antitrust authority to raise reservations about the merger earlier this month. Microsoft was given five days to respond with a proposal that would address its worries or face a prolonged ‘phase 2’ investigation.
Where the probes are headed
Since the merger was revealed in January, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have been in negotiations with Brussels regulators in what is regarded as the pre-notification stage — an indicator of how diligent authorities will be during the investigation.
Regulators anticipate a lengthy EU inquiry after Microsoft files its case in Brussels in the coming weeks. According to those familiar with EU antitrust investigations, authorities will take their time examining the transaction because of its size, the buyer’s market share and mounting worries from competitors like Sony.
Sony is worried
Last week, Sony accused Microsoft of misleading the gaming industry and authorities about its intention to retain the Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation devices. According to the report, Microsoft only plans to continue selling Activision’s successful game on PlayStation for a short time.
Microsoft will face numerous challenges in completing its largest-ever transaction. The tech giant hopes to finalise the transaction by the end of June 2023, but must first pass regulatory barriers in nations ranging from New Zealand to the United States.
Microsoft reportedly chose not to propose any remedies to the CMA’s concern at this time because there were no assurances that the UK regulator would have accepted them.