European Commission approves Microsoft's Activision Blizzard purchase for Xbox

The Lich King from World of Warcraft and Lilith from Diablo 4
(Image credit: Windows Central / Blizzard Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is currently working to acquire Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion. 
  • The merger is undergoing regulatory review around the world, with a handful of approvals and a couple of major roadblocks so far. 
  • The European Commission has approved the purchase following an in-depth examination of the deal. 

Microsoft's biggest purchase ever just got a shot of regulatory adrenaline. 

The European Commission shared the news on Monday that it is approving Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard. The regulatory authority for Europe explained in its decision that it is accepting Microsoft's offered remedies for Cloud gaming. Microsoft offered a free license for users in the EEA (which is composed of the EU and a handful of other countries) to stream any current and future Activision Blizzard titles, as long as the user has a license for the game.

"These commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission and represent a significant improvement for cloud game streaming compared to the current situation," the European Commission explained. "They will empower millions of EEA consumers to stream Activision's games using any cloud gaming services operating in the EEA, provided they are purchased in an online store or included in an active multi-game subscription in the EEA."

Microsoft's fight for the $69 billion merger has been a saga over the last year and half, with regulators around the world slowly deciding whether or not to allow the purchase.

"The European Commission has required Microsoft to license popular Activision Blizzard games automatically to competing cloud gaming services," said Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft. "This will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose.” 

Prior to this decision, regulators in Japan, Chile, Brazil, Serbia, and Saudi Arabia had approved the purchase, with South African authorities also recommending approval so far. 

On the other side, the FTC in the U.S. and the CMA in the U.K. have moved to block the deal, spurred on big anti-Big Tech sentiment and a concern for the uber-nascent Cloud gaming market, respectively. Microsoft is currently filing an appeal in the U.K. and plans to fight for the purchase against the FTC in court.

In a response to the European Commission's decision, the CMA shared via Twitter that "Microsoft’s proposals, accepted by the European Commission today, would allow Microsoft to set the terms and conditions for this market for the next 10 years," adding that "This is one of the reasons the CMA’s independent panel group rejected Microsoft’s proposals and prevented this deal."

Windows Central's take

This is a huge move that will no doubt aid an embattled Microsoft with some much-needed good news. Microsoft is already fighting two of the largest regulators in the world. If the European Commission had also blocked the deal, there's no doubt Microsoft would've walked away from the deal. Now, they still have a massive uphill battle, but things are looking better.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

  • Samuel Tolbert
    Who knows where it goes from here. Things have been topsy-turvy and breaking precedent all throughout this saga. That said, Microsoft is now going to fight for this deal to the bitter end.