Microsoft won't have to split Activision Blizzard or sell off Call of Duty IP to get the EU's approval of the deal, according to the latest reports.
Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Call of Duty and Diablo 4 publisher Activision Blizzard seem to be closer to completion as reports from Reuters suggest that European Union's regulatory body will not require structural remedies, meaning Microsoft won't have to split Activision Blizzard or sell any IP to get the deal done.
According to the report, Microsoft's recent licencing deals with Nvidia and Nintendo eased the antitrust concerns that the EU had initially. Microsoft announced that all Xbox games will be coming to Nvidia's cloud gaming platform GeForce Now and that Call of Duty series will return to Nintendo.
The European Commission are expected to share their final decision on the deal by April 25, 2023.
And while EU are now closer to approving the deal, the biggest hurdle is yet to be cleared. CMA UK have stated in their recent report that behavioural remedies wouldn't be enough to get them to approve the deal. Instead, the UK's regulatory body would prefer structural remedies that would mean selling off the Call of Duty franchise or Blizzard to a third party among other things.
Of course, Microsoft have no intention of doing that so it will be interesting to see if they are able to convince CMA to approve the deal without any major remedies.
Microsoft announced their $69 million bid to buy Activision Blizzard just over a year ago as part of their strategy to boost Game Pass content and mobile division. Sony have been pretty vocal in speaking against the deal, fearing that Microsoft could simply stop releasing Call of Duty games on PlayStation consoles. On the other hand, Valve , Take-Two , Tencent and Nvidia have publicly stated that they support the merger.
Microsoft President Brad Smith has recently said that Microsoft are ready to sign a licencing deal with Sony, which would legally oblige them to release Call of Duty on PlayStation for the next ten years but the Japanese publisher are yet to agree to that.
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