What you need to know
- Microsoft is trying to acquire Activision-Blizzard for Xbox, known for games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
- The regulatory process is gruelling, with the EU, U.S. FTC, and UK CMA all citing concerns.
- Major labor unions and trade organizations are seemingly in support of the deal, now including the EGDF which represents major national trade associations across the bloc.
In a piece of good news for Microsoft’s acquisition hopes, a major trade federation in Europe has thrown its weight in support of the Activision Blizzard deal.
Microsoft is aiming to acquire Activision Blizzard King, known for games like Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga. Microsoft is aiming to pay $69 billion for the deal, which would see shareholders gain massive returns while giving Xbox sole control over the mega publisher’s future.
Sony and other companies have complained about the deal, citing without evidence the possibility that Microsoft may withhold Call of Duty from competing platforms, despite the fact Xbox has offered to commit in writing to maintaining multiplatform access for Call of Duty and other titles.
The U.S. FTC, UK CMA, and European Union are all debating whether or not to let the deal go ahead right now, as regulators ramp up oversight on so-called “big tech” firms after years of half-hearted regulation overseeing Amazon, Google, and Meta, all of whom have been fined for abuses of various types. Microsoft too famously fell afoul of regulators in the late 90s in the so-called “browser wars,” which saw Microsoft forced to offer competing browsers against its bundled Internet Explorer.
Despite concerns, Microsoft has won the backing of various unions across the world for its friendliness towards employee self-determination. Microsoft became the first of the big tech companies to acknowledge a large-scale game developer union, found within ZeniMax’s QA department. To that end, a major European trade federation has also backed the deal, according to a report from MLex (via IdleSloth).
The EGDF however also claimed that Microsoft “inconsistently respected assurances” of providing acquired content on other platforms, without citing an example. The FTC also made the same claim but was slapped down by the European Union, who noted that Microsoft never actually offered assurances of preventing ZeniMax games upcoming Xbox games such as Starfield or Elder Scrolls VI from hitting other platforms. The only time Microsoft publicly committed to continuing to support other platforms was in the form of service games that already existed on other platforms, such as Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls Online, and Minecraft, which all enjoy full support on PlayStation to this day.
In any case, the fact another major trade alliance is offering clout to Microsoft’s deal is undoubtedly a boost to its prospects. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also recently commented on the deal to the WSJ (via Tom Warren): “If you believe in competition, you should believe in this deal. I hope the competition authorities get focused more on competition and that would be a good day.”