Update: February 23 at 6:40 ET
Additional context about which Xbox games will be on NVIDIA GeForce Now has been added to this piece based on NVIDIA's most recent quarterly earnings report.
What you need to know
- Today, Microsoft defended its bid for the Activision Blizzard acquisition before the European Commission antitrust authorities in Brussels.
- Microsoft countered monopoly claims and stated that if the deal goes through, all Activision titles will be on GeForce NOW.
- Brad Smith of Microsoft went on to explain that the future of gaming will focus more on cross-platform than it ever has before.
- The Activision Blizzard acquisition is planned to be finalized on July 18, 2023.
Today, an important closed hearing occurred in Brussels before the European Commission in which Microsoft defended its case to acquire Activision Blizzard.
During this hearing, Microsoft President Brad Smith stated that "Microsoft will be bringing its Xbox games that play on PCs to Nvidia GeForce NOW streaming service and in addition, if this acquisition is approved, we will also bring all of Activision Blizzard titles including Call of Duty to GeForce NOW as well." This is huge news and effectively undermines any claims that Microsoft has antitrust aims.
NVIDIA's most recent quarterly earnings report highlighted a 10-year agreement with Microsoft to have the Xbox game lineup come to GeForce Now. Games including Minecraft, Halo and Flight Simulator will be on NVIDIA's streaming service, as will Activision games such as Call of Duty and Overwatch, assuming Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through.
Smith explained how this effectively makes it so no one can claim Microsoft is vying for a cloud gaming monopoly. "This is significant," Smith said, "because now we're addressing the full range of issues that have been raised by regulators as topics, not just interest but, in some cases, concern, and I think it gives us the opportunity to step back, if you will, and look at what this acquisition means."
Cross-platform is the future
As the hearing continued, Smith went on to explain that Sony has 286 exclusive titles for PlayStation while Microsoft has 58 exclusives for Xbox. He stated, "we have an important relationship with Sony; we haven't had any concerns or controversies about those 58 games." Smith went on to say that Microsoft plans to focus on cross-platform games from now on. "As we look to the future," he said, "we believe the future is even more cross-platform than it has been in the past."
"I'm not the right person to dive into the details of the precise architecture that [the acquisition] will use. But I will say that we will ensure that our games work exactly the way people would expect... whether we're talking about Nintendo, we're talking about Sony, whether we're talking about GeForce NOW, for any other platform... in a world of multiplayer gaming, that's a necessity. The game has to work frankly equally well for everybody on every platform, or it just doesn't meet the test..."
Microsoft is already working towards these cross-platform aims and has already signed a legally binding contract with Nintendo regarding Xbox games. This includes a 10-year agreement to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo hardware.
More about the Activision Blizzard purchase
Microsoft first announced its plans to buy Activision Blizzard for Xbox back in January 2022. Since then, the acquisition has met with a lot of opposition from Sony as well as a lawsuit blocking the merger from The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under the grounds that this purchase would "create a monopoly in the video game industry."
Despite this, Microsoft remains confident in the acquisition happening and has worked to align its plans with regulators. Smith previously provided an official statement to Windows Central: "Even with confidence in our case, we remain committed to creative solutions with regulators that will protect competition, consumers, and workers in the tech sector. As we’ve learned from our lawsuits in the past, the door never closes on the opportunity to find an agreement that can benefit everyone." Furthermore, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer, has recently stated that he is "more confident now than [he] was a year ago" about the deal going through since he has been working with regulatory boards around the world informing them about the industry and how this deal would work.
At the time of the initial announcement, Microsoft said it planned to finalize the Activision Blizzard acquisition for about $70 billion in about 18 months on July 18, 2023. We're currently about 13 months into that timeframe.
Gain access to several games, both old and new, with the Xbox Game Pass. More titles are added regularly and there are plenty of games this year that have already been slated to join it later this year.
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Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's gaming editors with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of game guides, previews, features, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market.