MADRID, Oct. 13 (Portaltic/EP) –
Microsoft announced this Friday the closing of the purchase of Activision Blizzard after receiving approval from the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which establishes a new scenario in the video game industry, especially with regard to the distribution of popular games such as Call of Duty, Diablo and Overwatch.
With the announcement of the purchase of the video game developer in January 2022, a legal battle began between Microsoft and Sony, since this other company, which manufactures PlayStation, claimed that there was a risk of monopoly in the event that its main competitor (Xbox) was made with Activision Blizzard.
From the first moment, the Japanese manufacturer urged Microsoft to comply with the contractual agreements if the purchase was finally given the green light after a study of the agreement by international regulators. Then, he also pointed out the need for the tech giant to continue ensuring that Activision Blizzard games were cross-platform.
One of Sony’s main concerns was the future of Call of Duty, one of Activision’s most popular war video games, as it feared that with the acquisition Microsoft would make it exclusive for its platform.
Xbox director Phil Spencer then assured in writing that he intended to “comply with all existing agreements following the acquisition of the Activision Blizzard studio” and that Sony was “an important part” of his industry.
During these months, Microsoft has tried to demonstrate that the purchase of Activision would not harm the video game sector, although some international organizations, such as the European Commission (EC), have tried to prove the opposite.
After the US Justice gave the green light to Microsoft to go ahead with the purchase, in a transaction valued at 69,000 million dollars (about 65,570 million at the current exchange rate), the EC suggested that it planned to offer Activision Blizzard video games for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members exclusively.
This, however, was revealed just a few days after Microsoft signed a binding agreement with Sony ensuring that its main concern, Call of Duty, would remain on PlayStation for 10 years.
Although the initial deadline for the closing of the agreement was July 18 – just one day after this announcement – on the 19th of the same month Microsoft and Activision Blizzard agreed to extend the closing of their agreement until October 18.
During this extension, Microsoft hit the key to get the CMA to finally approve the acquisition of Activision with a new financial agreement: it would transfer the cloud gaming rights to Activision Blizzard titles to Ubisoft, a decision that ensured that the rest of the platforms could continue accessing their games.
This is precisely what has caused the United Kingdom regulator to authorize the purchase of Activision by Microsoft this Friday since, with the sale of the transmission rights to the French firm, it is guaranteed that Microsoft cannot have absolute dominance about this market.
THE FUTURE OF MICROSOFT AND ACTIVISION BLIZZARD KING
This Friday, October 13, the United Kingdom regulator – considered the “last regulatory obstacle to the merger”, in the words of Microsoft president Brad Smith – has finally authorized Microsoft’s purchase of Activision by approving the proposal concerning to Ubisoft.
By giving the green light to this transaction, Microsoft has officially welcomed Activision Blizzard King and its teams to its ‘gaming’ section. “We intend to integrate everything we do at Xbox, from our team to the products we make and the stories we tell,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer acknowledged in a statement.
With this purchase, Microsoft also hopes to expand its audiences and “that more players can join” both through their mobile devices and cloud streaming services “and more,” he added.
The company has insisted that it will continue to be aware of the feedback from its users, who “have always been at the center of everything” it does to build a community in which developers can “do their jobs better.”
In addition, he recalled his promise to continue making “more games available in more places.” To do this, he will allow cloud streaming providers and players to broadcast Activision Blizzard games in the European Economic Area, a commitment he has made with the European Commission.
Thus, it has begun working to bring the Activision Blizard King franchises to Game Pass, where it hopes to begin releasing these titles over the next year, and other platforms.
MICROSOFT SUPPLEMENTAL AGREEMENTS
In recent months and in parallel with the reviews of European organizations, Microsoft has signed different agreements with cloud gaming platforms, with which it has established to carry the American developer’s video games for a period of 10 years.
The first to formalize this proposal was Nintendo, which has assured that its users will be able to continue playing Call Of Duty for the next few years. So has Nvidia, with whom Microsoft signed just one day after Nintendo. Then, the manufacturer announced its commitment to bring Xbox titles for PC and those developed by Activision Blizzard to its cloud gaming platform, Nvidia GeForce Now.
Already in March, a new agreement with Boosteroid was announced to bring Xbox games for PC to its cloud over the next decade, including titles from Bethesda, Activision Blizzard and the aforementioned ‘shooter’.
Ubitus, a cloud gaming enabler whose clients include Capcom, 2K, Atari, Konami, Sega and Ericsson; it was the fourth company to sign the same agreement during the same period.
Activision Blizzard games will also be available on Ubisoft+, as part of the agreement to transfer the rights to cloud gaming from this developer. In addition, Ubisoft reserves the right to license the games to a series of cloud subscription and streaming services.