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Xbox’s Activision deal reportedly set for in-depth probes in the UK and Europe

Microsoft is reportedly facing prolonged investigations into its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard in both the UK and Europe.

Last week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said its inquiry into the $68.7 billion merger may be expanded to a second phase due to a number of antitrust concerns.

Notably, it said it was worried about the impact the deal could have on PlayStation’s ability to compete, given that the deal would see Microsoft gain ownership of the Call of Duty series.

According to the Financial Times, the CMA is expected to officially expand its antitrust probe this week after Microsoft chose not to offer any remedies to its concerns at this stage.

Phase two of the CMA’s investigation would see it appoint an independent panel to scrutinise the deal in further detail and evaluate if it’s more likely than not to result in a substantial lessening of competition.

According to the FT, regulators and others involved in the deal are also expecting a lengthy EU probe once Microsoft officially files its case in Brussels soon.

“It is a big deal, a difficult deal,” a Brussels source said to be familiar with the transaction told the publication. “It needs an extensive investigation.”

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Orchard73d ago

Everyone expected this acquisition to be scrutinized, even Microsoft - that's why they tempered expectations that it won't close until 2023. The internet will explode on the day that this deal closes.

Looking forward to this closing though, this year will be the last year I sink money into Call of Duty.

SullysCigar73d ago

Are you not approving this one?

Tbf, it's only right it should be looked at independently. Make sure all the 'I's are dotted and 'T's are crossed. It's a big deal, after all.

Orchard73d ago (Edited 73d ago )

There was a valid report on it from Christopher at the time I commented. I have now approved it.

And yes, a deal of this size (within and outside of gaming) should always be reviewed.

EDIT: Scrap that, noticed an issue with the article.

Gamingsince198173d ago

Look forward to it but it has a chance it won't be legally allowed, I guess we will see, but so far it's not looking that good considering MS aren't giving any concessions or leeway.

Orchard72d ago

If you read the source article (which unfortunately is behind one of those randomized paywalls), it says companies rarely offer any concessions in phase 1 because they are very rarely accepted in phase 1 - so you end up double dipping and offering extra concessions in phase 2.

Elda72d ago

If you're paying or paid for a GP subscription you will still put money into COD just not at retail price.

Father__Merrin72d ago

If you play cod it's likely your gonna grab a lot of playtime few months at least. £11.99 a month for a few months. I can't believe they still believe it's free

Orchard72d ago

No one is saying GP is free. But I already subscribe to gamepass, so assuming they don't increase the price or add extra tiers when COD arrives in it, it's just a value add for me, and yes, lets me stop sinking money into COD.

generic-user-name72d ago

The Internet already exploded when it was announced. It'll only explode over this again if the deal 'doesn't' go through.

Elda72d ago

Anytime your spending money every month on GP you're still paying to play is all I'm saying.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 72d ago
Jin_Sakai73d ago

“Microsoft lawyers respond to CMA by offering no remedies/commitments“

It’s pretty clear they’re confident the deal will close then.

Destiny108073d ago (Edited 73d ago )

they offered ''no'' remedies to the concerns of the regulators and you interpret that as a done deal

Gamingsince198173d ago (Edited 73d ago )

Him and orchard are a bit too confident, these looks into the deal could stop it dead in its tracks if they think it will be bad for competition. The laws in Europe are much more harsh compared to the US where monopolies are seen as a good thing.

Jin_Sakai73d ago (Edited 73d ago )

I’ll come back to these comments when then deal is complete next year.

crazyCoconuts72d ago

MS is no stranger to these proceedings. I'd bet there's a well rehearsed dance that goes on in these negotiations, and playing hard ball might be part of it. How many times have we heard about the EU doing a "probe" on US businesses only for it to go away after a substantial "fine" has been paid...

Gamingsince198173d ago ShowReplies(2)
Profchaos72d ago

They offered no remedies as stated in other articles because there is almost nothing they can offer to satisfy concerns at this stage. They will not hold agreements and offers to serve a game up for x years as a remedy.

Just reiterating what I read ms will have a chance to rebutted at an appropriate time now is not it

blacktiger72d ago

No it means that they won't hold anything exclusive or disrupt the service such as say since Playstation is call of duty's biggest customer, they will shut it down or change things around because they own it.

That's what it means. If they won't offer to hold it for few years then regulators will look into it Whether it's fair or not against monopoly fps game.

AmUnRa72d ago

Wrong, after fase one they asked MS if hey will make concession concerning the deal.
MS refused, so the investigation in now going in fase 2. Its not pretty clear for MS that the deal will be closed, infact its realy insure for now and the near feature...

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 72d ago
Ryuk_200773d ago ShowReplies(8)
shadowT73d ago

This acquisition is not healthy for the gaming industry.

MrVux00073d ago (Edited 73d ago )

Consolidation of any industry is never good.

(Yes, the same would apply if Sony makes similar purchases of certain publishers.)

ChiefofLoliPolice72d ago (Edited 72d ago )

True but since MS got the ball moving Sony has to make moves like that now. This is why I said I have no respect for what MS is doing.

They have deep pockets but they can't even build their own studios or buy some to bring in some fresh talent to create new 1st party experiences (which is where MS has been SORELY lacking in these past two generations of consoles) they are trying to outright buyout ENTIRE publishers with well known established IP's that will surely not be on other platforms.

Buying devs is one thing, paying for exclusive content to a game is one thing but outright buying up whole established publishers? And considering these publishers has some of the the most popular game franchises on earth?...cmon.

porkChop73d ago (Edited 73d ago )

I think for the most part it's fine. Blizzard makes most of their money on PC, and King is all mobile. The main issue is COD going exclusive. Personally I'd prefer COD stay multiplatform like Minecraft, and hopefully that's what ends up happening. But I do hope this is the kick in the ass that Sony needs to start making shooters again.

They're complaining about competing with COD but they don't even try. They had Socom, Resistance, and Killzone. All great franchises, all very successful. They stopped making all of them because they realized they could just pay for exclusive content in COD every year and call it a day.

Then they complain that Xbox shouldn't be allowed to have exclusive content in COD after the deal closes. You can't reap the benefits of exclusive content for 2 generations and then cry if your competitor does the same. Honestly, Sony are making themselves look like spoiled children.

Mcardle73d ago

I wouldn't say they are acting like spoil children, completely hypocritical yes but at the end of the day this is business and Sony wouldn't be doing their jobs if they weren't trying to wring every little bit of concession they can from this deal going through.

Gamingsince198173d ago

It's not Sony, these are independent governments doing what they are supposed to do, what crack are you on ?

porkChop72d ago

@Gamingsince1981

Did you read the article? Have you not read all the other articles every day about Sony's comments to regulators all over the world? Obviously the regulators are doing their job, that's not what I'm talking about.

Jin_Sakai73d ago

Paying to keep Hogwarts Legacy content off Xbox for one year isn’t healthy either. Same for Ghostwire Tokyo and Deathloop.

tay870173d ago

thats funny you mention deathloop and tokyo ghostwire. yes they had a.1 yr exclusive, but what is worse sony paying for 1yr exclusivity or MS just buying the publisher outright and making all games going forward xbox exclusive. dont care for bethesda games personally,but im sure there are quite a few playstation only owners who are pissed. MS can keep bethesda and activision. if capcom, square and fromsoftware were all somehow available, id rather sony scoop them up than spend money on the likes of activision and bethesda. very curious what sonys next move is. they clearly are interested in square tokyo and fromsoftware.

CR7JUVE189772d ago

And that is the same as buying an entire publisher that has always been multiplatform?

Oh wait. Correction.

TWO publishers that have always been multiplatform.

Please name 1 single multi platform title that Sony has taken away permanently. Go ahead. Name one.

You can't.

SoulWarrior72d ago (Edited 72d ago )

You guys keep parroting the same thing as if one is equal to another, MS do timed exclusives content and deals all the time and have been doing for years, how is this in any way equal to spending 70 billion to take games away from the competition?

Christopher72d ago

Ah, the whataboutism where you compare timed exclusivity, let alone of a minor content item, to owning and controlling a slew of IP, including the best-selling IP every year.

I think we can agree that timed stuff sucks. But, in comparison to controlling what has been third-party titles of great note and utilization by the gaming community as a whole to suddenly fall under one hardware, not software, umbrella entirely? Yeah, not an argument. It's like you're arguing the value of punishment between a person who stole an apple to survive versus Bernie Madoff.

shinoff218372d ago (Edited 72d ago )

not the whole game though from multiple publishers. Ms went for the killshot to try and ruin sony. MS is looking to monopolize. Your comparing a few hours worth of DLC to buying whole publishers wtf dude.

Ill add ms does the same thing with timed exclusive dlc. Remember ms paying out the wazoooo for gta4 dlc

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 72d ago
ApocalypseShadow73d ago

The biggest issue is the lie Microsoft told the industry that there was this outside threat. That if they didn't save.....buy these companies, others would have swooped in to buy them. They do need scrutiny. If those other companies did buy them, there's a clear chance they would have continued making multiplatform games. Because there's money there. Being that most 3rd parties made more money on PlayStation. And there's still Nintendo, Xbox, mobile and PC to make money from. Microsoft is making them exclusive to their platform and services.

Did Facebook, Apple, Amazon or Google buy any big console publishers BEFORE Microsoft did with Zenimax/Bethesda?

No. They had plenty of time.

Did any of the four show interest and buy any big console publishers AFTER Microsoft moved in to buy Zenimax/Bethesda?

No again. They had plenty of time.

Did the big four show interest in buying any big console publishers AFTER Microsoft moved in to buy Activision/Blizzard?

No. Still not seeing it yet?

We have not heard or seen any movement from these companies. A developer here. A developer there. No big console publishers. Yet, Microsoft felt it necessary to move in and buy two big ones. Supposedly to create their own metaverse. To gain a foothold on mobile. Besides saving Kotick's ass. Microsoft knows exactly what it does to PlayStation and other platforms.

Tencent was considered a threat from Kotick's words. But Tencent owns developers that make multiplatform games. Embracer Group owns multiple developers that make multiplatform games. No threat there. Those companies bought developers and continue to spread games around.

But what Microsoft is doing is creating an imbalance. Supposedly, to bring "joy and unity of gaming to everyone on the planet." That was Satya Nadella's words. That's what he told investors. Joy is fine. Unity sounds like control and a monopoly with them on top. I'm guessing Windows Internet explorer brought joy and unity as well Satya. And that's why Microsoft was sued with anti trust. Microsoft is now trying to leverage game pass in a similar fashion to Internet Explorer. Where some devices aren't compatible or willing to have it. Creating inoperability. Are wonder who devices aren't compatible with game pass? Hmmm...

The purchase will most likely go through. There's so many shady things that get allowed. So, I wouldn't be surprised. But it's obvious what Microsoft is doing. Embrace Extend Extinguish. It's still the same. Just done in a different industry. AT&T learned this years ago as well. Do I see "Baby Bells" in Microsoft future? We'll just have to see.

porkChop73d ago

The metaverse hasn't even taken off. That's why we haven't seen Amazon, FB, etc, start buying anyone up. The actual platform has to be there and it has to work. Logically most people knew we wouldn't be seeing any of those companies start swooping in yet. FBs metaverse project has been such a failure that their stock historically tanked. And yet you're surprised they didn't jump in dropping billions buying developers for a nonexistent platform? Come on man, I know you're smarter than that. Hopefully the metaverse never takes off at all though. That would be better for all of us.

"Microsoft is now trying to leverage game pass in a similar fashion to Internet Explorer. Where some devices aren't compatible or willing to have it. Creating inoperability. Are wonder who devices aren't compatible with game pass? Hmmm..."

Huh? What are you talking about? They want it on as many devices as possible because that widens their potential customer base. MS can't put GP on a device if the manufacturer doesn't let them though. Phil publicly stated he wanted to put GP on PS. It's not there because Sony refused. He wanted it on Switch but Nintendo refused. MS wanted GP on Apple's App Store. It's not there because Apple blocked it. So you have to stream the games through the browser. MS can't work miracles and they can't force any company to support their service.

Gamingsince198173d ago

Yes because the competing companies should all be lining up to put xbox onto their consoles......what ever world you live in must be pretty weird compared to reality.

porkChop72d ago

What are you talking about? I'm not saying they *should* be. Dude, the quote I was responding to was literally in my comment.

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