The European Union on Monday approved Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of video game maker Activision Blizzard.
The acquisition, sweetened by Microsoft’s promises to automatically license Activision games to cloud gaming platforms, “would no longer raise competition concerns and would ultimately unlock significant benefits for competition and consumers,” said the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm and top antitrust watchdog.
“We intend to meaningfully expand our investment and workforce throughout the EU, and we’re excited for the benefits our transaction brings to players in Europe and around the world,” Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.
The deal has been scrutinized by regulators around the world over fears that it would give Microsoft and its Xbox console control of Activision’s hit franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. It’s still in jeopardy as British regulators blocked the deal in late April and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission claimed it is an illegal acquisition.
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In its final report, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said, “the only effective remedy” to the substantial loss of competition “is to prohibit the merger” of what would be the largest deal in tech history.
Microsoft sought to counter the resistance by striking a deal with Nintendo to license Activision titles like Call of Duty for 10 years and offering the same to Sony if the deal went ahead.
Following its review, the European Commission dismissed the possibility that Microsoft would cut off its games from PlayStation, saying that excluding the most popular gaming console would put a big dent in its profits.
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Microsoft’s cloud gaming technology will enable streaming to tablets, phones and other devices, freeing gamers from buying expensive consoles and gaming computers.
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“Europe has played a pivotal role in the development of gaming, especially mobile gaming, and we expect European game developers will continue to drive growth and innovation,” Kotick said. “Our talented teams in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Romania, Poland and many other European countries have the skills, ambition, and government support needed to compete effectively on a global scale.”
The all-cash deal was announced more than a year ago and was also opposed by contemporaries like Sony.
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