EU wants to know if Microsoft will block rivals after Activision deal

BRUSSELS, Oct 6 (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators are asking game developers whether Microsoft (MSFT.O) will be incentivized to block rivals’ access to best-selling games from ‘Call of Duty’ maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O), according to an EU document seen by Reuters.

EU antitrust regulators are due to make a preliminary decision by Nov. 8 on whether to clear Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision for $69 billion.

The EU competition authority also questioned whether Activision’s wealth of user data would give the US software giant a competitive advantage in the development, publishing and distribution of PC and console games, according to EU document.

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The planned acquisition, the largest in the gaming industry, will help Microsoft better compete with leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T).

Following its decision next month, the European Commission is expected to open a four-month investigation, highlighting regulatory concerns over Big Tech’s acquisitions.

Game developers, publishers and distributors were asked whether the deal would affect their bargaining power over the terms of sale of console and PC games through Microsoft’s Xbox and its Game Pass cloud game streaming service.

Regulators also wanted to know if there would be enough alternative providers in the market post-deal and also in the event that Microsoft decides to make Activision’s games exclusively available on its Xbox, Games Pass and streaming services. cloud games.

They asked whether such exclusivity clauses would strengthen Microsoft’s Windows operating system over its rivals, and whether Activision’s addition to its PC operating system, cloud services and tools game-related software gives it an edge in the video game industry.

They asked how important the Call of Duty franchise is to console game distributors, third-party desktop multi-game subscription services, and cloud game streaming service providers.

The questionnaire, with around 100 questions, asked which of rivals such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Sony’s Playstation, Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and Facebook Gaming could be considered the most attractive after the deal.

Respondents have until October 10 to respond.

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Susan Fenton

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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