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European Commission Opens In-Depth Investigation Into the Xbox and Activision Blizzard Deal

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The European Commission is putting Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard under the microscope.

Announced today, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation for the business proposal. According to the press release, the Commission is concerned the deal “may reduce competition in the markets” for video games and PCs. The Commission has until March 23, 2023, to make a decision.

Specifically, the Commission mentioned concerns surrounding Call of Duty in the following statement:

“In particular, the Commission is concerned that, by acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft may foreclose access to Activision Blizzard’s console and PC video games, especially to high-profile and highly successful games (so-called ‘AAA’ games) such as ‘Call of Duty’.”

Ever since officials started looking into the proposed merger, Microsoft has repeatedly shared intentions to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles. The latest reassurance from Xbox’s Phil Spencer came just last week, where he said Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation “as long as there’s a PlayStation to ship to.”

In fact, Xbox’s official response to the European Commission’s investigation even mentioned Call of Duty. In a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson to The Verge’s Tom Warren, Microsoft said “Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve saud we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation.”

The European Commission’s release also mentions that it will investigate the acquisition’s potential impact on video game subscription services, like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. Finally, the Commission will also investigate if Microsoft’s acquisition would “discourage users to buy non-Windows PCs” if Microsoft were to combine “Activision Blizzard’s games and Microsoft’s distribution of games via cloud game streaming to Windows.”

The concerns from the European Commission are similar to those of the UK Government, which recently asked for public opinion on the matter. Microsoft’s enormous purchase has also come under fire from multiple U.S. senators, New York City, and the U.S. Justice Department. Through the entire reviewal process, Spencer has said he feels good about the acquisition’s progress.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

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