Microsoft Rivals Quizzed During EU Review of Activision Blizzard Deal
European Union regulators have asked for more information on Microsoft Corp. 's bid for computer games developer Activision Blizzard Inc. from rivals and market players as it takes a closer look at the $69 billion deal.
The European Commission sent out different questionnaires to video games developers, publishers, distributors, competing operating systems and providers of cloud services, according to a person familiar with the process. The planned takeover was formally notified to the EU last week, with a Nov. 8 deadline on whether it will refer the deal for an in depth probe.
Scrutiny of the transaction has already intensified with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority deciding last month to open an extended review after it initially found that the deal could lead to “a substantial lessening of competition” in the gaming console, multi game subscription and cloud markets.
The questions sent by the commission -- a normal part of deal scrutiny -- focus on markets, their main rivals, the effects the deal could have on the behavior of gamers and prices, and on Microsoft's position more generally, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.
The combination with Activision -- which owns some popular franchises including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero -- will make Microsoft the world's third-largest gaming company and boost the Xbox maker's roster of titles for its Game Pass subscribers.
Microsoft said that the EU review “is progressing in line with the expected regulatory schedule and process” and that the company is “confident that the acquisition will close in fiscal year 2023.”
The EU commission declined to comment.
The Federal Trade Commission is also examining the deal, focusing on the combination of the company's gaming portfolio with Microsoft's consoles and hardware systems.