This report says the EU will approve Microsoft's Activision deal for Xbox, but will it?

(Image credit: Activision)

What you need to know

  • Reuters is reporting that the Activision-Blizzard deal for Microsoft will be approved by the European Union. 
  • Activision-Blizzard makes games such as Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty. 
  • The $69 billion dollar acquisition was blocked in the UK, over "concerns" that Microsoft could come to dominant a speculative future cloud gaming market. 
  • Despite suggesting the deal will go through in the headline, Reuters seems to concede that its information on the topic is several weeks old. 

A new report in Reuters suggests that Microsoft's big Activision deal is set to get a lifeline. 

Microsoft is currently in the process of trying to acquire Activision-Blizzard-King, makers of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga. The deal has been fraught with regulatory scrutiny, with Sony PlayStation decrying the deal to regulators across the globe. Despite Sony's protests, it was not the console market that seemed to scupper the deal, but instead "concerns" over how it could position Microsoft in the near non-existent cloud gaming market. The UK regulatory arm known as the CMA blocked the deal a few weeks ago, claiming that it could give Microsoft a monopoly in this very, very nascent market — a market which Microsoft says it can only serve to 5,000 concurrent users in the UK. 

In any case, it looks like the $69 billion dollar deal could be getting a lifeline. Reuters is suggesting that on May 15, the EU anti-trust commission will approve the deal, according to its sources. 

The report looks a little dubious, however. Reuters says that its sources discussed the matter all the way back in March, before the CMA's decision. It's unclear if the sourcing on the deal passing, and the sourcing on the date of the decision are separate, or one and the same, given how the article is written. 

Either way, the mood back then was definitely more positive, after Microsoft cut deals with NVIDIA GeForce Now and other cloud providers to offer access to its content. Similar reports emerged proclaiming the CMA's decision beforehand, only for it to swing in the largely unexpected, opposite direction. Naturally, the EU declined to comment. 

Windows Central's Take

The cynic in me can't help but pour scorn on this Reuters report. The headline offers hope that the deal will pass, despite the fact the information on it potentially clearing is several weeks out of date. May 15th was always within the expected region for a final decision for the EU, and if Reuters just tacked on previous information back from March — it feels like a bit of a reach to suggest the deal will go through. 

Microsoft was thoroughly blindsided by the CMA's decision, having previously expected their commitments to smaller cloud providers such as Boosteroid among others would see off the so-called "concerns" about the cloud market. Despite offering to ensure blanket access to Call of Duty and other ABK games, even to competitors like PlayStation and Nintendo, the CMA opted to block the deal. I suspect Microsoft won't be taking this report from Reuters too seriously — and you probably shouldn't either. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Velzee
    Except you forgot to mention that Bloomberg and @The Terminal are others that corroborate Rueter’s claims.