The European Union has allowed Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision-Blizzard to move forward, on the grounds that Microsoft has addressed the cloud-gaming concerns that have held up the deal in other jurisdictions. The deal proposes huge benefits for consumers, including a guaranteed right to stream Activision games.
Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard—the creator of games like Diablo IV, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush—is still being blocked in the United Kingdom, specifically over concerns that the combined company would create a gaming behemoth. Both the U.K. and EU were concerned about the effects of cloud gaming — and the concessions Microsoft made to the EU are an enormous win for consumers.
Specifically, the EU and Microsoft agreed that:
- Microsoft would offer a free license to EU consumers that would allow them to stream, via any cloud game streaming services of their choice, all current and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games for which they have a license.
- Cloud gaming providers would get a corresponding license to allow EU gamers to stream any Activision Blizzard’s PC and console games, all for free.
- Both deals are good for ten years.
It’s important to note, as the EU does, that Activision Blizzard does not stream any of its games, either on console or PC. That includes massive hits like World of Warcraft, itself largely a cloud-based service, as well as its more traditional titles.
The deal has some qualifications that you might not expect, either. For one, if a gamer already subscribes to a service that includes Activision games (such as Microsoft’s Game Pass) that gamer has the right to stream those games from any cloud service provider, even one that the gamer doesn’t pay for — and under any operating system they choose, too. Cloud streaming must also have the “same quality and content as games available for traditional download.”
Cloud gaming companies showed interest in the deal, and some have already shown interest in licenses, the EU said. Regardless, the EU’s conclusion seems valid: “These commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission and represent a significant improvement for cloud game streaming compared to the current situation.”
It’s certainly possible that the UK will adopt these concessions, too. If they do, Microsoft’s gaming clout will only get stronger.