Two insiders told Politico that the European Commission is ready to open an in-depth second-phase probe into Microsoft’s record $69 billion acquisition of games publisher Activision-Blizzard.
Microsoft had until October 31 to respond to a first-phase probe by the EU’s competition authorities. The organization opted not to do so, two people familiar with the matter told Politico. The sources shared the news on the condition of anonymity, owing to the sensitive nature of the issue. The European Commission has until November 8 to publicly announce its decision to initiate a second-phase probe into the transaction.
Restricted access to Call of Duty
The European Commission has previously questioned Microsoft’s competitors about the company’s behaviour in cloud gaming and services, and the possibility that the organization may limit access to Activision-Blizzard’s massively popular game ‘Call of Duty’, according to documents acquired by Politico.
According to a Microsoft spokesperson, the organization continues to engage with the European Commission on future steps and to resolve real marketplace concerns. The spokesperson added that Call of Duty will be “available on both Xbox and PlayStation on the same day”. Xbox is owned by Microsoft, while PlayStation is owned by Sony.
The European Commission did not reply to a request for comment from Politico.
Brazil and Saudi Arabia gave the green light
The United Kingdom’s competition authority expanded its probe into Microsoft’s takeover of Activision-Blizzard in mid-September after the companies failed to address concerns about the merger.
Companies often opt not to respond to EU preliminary examinations if authorities intend to begin a four-month lengthy probe. The deal is also being investigated in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. Consistent with Saudi Arabia’s earlier consent, Brazil approved the deal unconditionally.