Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard sees in-depth investigation by European Commission

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What you need to know

  • Back in January 2022, Microsoft announced a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. 
  • The deal is currently undergoing regulatory review, with a couple of regulators having granted approval. 
  • The European Commission is opening a larger investigation into the deal and will have a  conclusion by March 2023.
  • The deal is also currently being investigated by the FTC in the U.S. and the CMA in the U.K. 

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that the company is "continuing to work" with the European Commission as part of the investigation.

The nearly $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is getting another thorough examination from one of the major regulators. 

The European Commission shared (opens in new tab) on Tuesday that an "in-depth" investigation was being opened regarding Microsoft's deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. Specifically, the European Commission is citing concerns that Microsoft may foreclose competitors' access to titles like the Call of Duty franchise.

Microsoft has previously stated at multiple points that the company's "intent" is for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation, and even be provided over on Nintendo's gaming hardware, something that is not currently the case.

The European Commission also cites two other points of concern. First, the regulator mentions worries of how this could change the emerging market of game streaming. Second, the European Commission is concerned that Microsoft will use this deal to discourage the purchase of "non-Windows PCs." 

The European Commission has until March 23, 2023 to make a decision. This deal is also currently being investigated by the FTC in the U.S, as well as the CMA in the U.K. The deal has been approved by a couple of regulators so far, including Brazilian regulator CADE.

Activision Blizzard is composed of Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King, owning franchises like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Diablo, Overwatch, and more. Activision Blizzard recently confirmed that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 crossed $1 billion in sales after just 10 days, while Overwatch 2 saw over 35 million players in its first month.

Update

In a statement to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson noted that "We're continuing to work with the European Commission on next steps and to address any valid marketplace concerns. Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we've said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less."

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.