Microsoft has reportedly cleared a major regulatory hurdle as it tries to move toward closing its purchase of Activision Blizzard. The company’s license offers to competitors are expected to ease European Union (EU) antitrust concerns about the $69 billion acquisition, according to Reuters. The EU previously said it believed the deal would “significantly reduce competition” in PC, console and cloud gaming.
The EU is not expected to require asset sales to approve the deal. However, the potential sales of Call of Duty are a point of contention; Microsoft wants to hang on to the property while using licensing agreements to fend off regulators. The company has promised to keep the franchise on competing platforms for at least 10 years if the purchase closes; it even brought Call of Duty to Nintendo consoles.
Microsoft says it is “committed to offering effective and easily implementable solutions that address the concerns of the European Commission.” “Our commitment to provide long-term 100% fair access to Call of Duty with Sony, Steam, NVIDIA and others preserves the benefits of the deal to players and developers and increases market competition,” a a Microsoft spokesperson said. Reuters.
The company announced the deal in January 2022 to help it compete with industry leaders Tencent and Sony while advancing its take on the metaverse. “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category of entertainment across all platforms today and plays a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the time.
Microsoft still needs to satisfy the US Federal Trade Commission and UK regulators before the deal can be completed. The company has until July to resolve antitrust concerns, or it will have to renegotiate or abandon the purchase (which means paying a breakup fee of up to $3 billion).
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