EU watchdog asks companies about possible Microsoft strategies once Activision deal clears

December 21, 2022

A new report from Reuters says European Commission sent a 91-page questionnaire to Microsoft’s rivals earlier this month. The recipients were asked for their opinion and insights regarding the future actions of the software giant once the proposed $69 billion Activision merger clears. The document tapped different issues and areas, from game exclusivity to Call of Duty’s true influence in the game business industry and more.

According to the source of Reuters, these recipients likely included gaming companies, PC OS providers, and console providers, alongside game publishers, developers, and distributors. Based on the information provided, most of the questions pointed to the actions Microsoft might take in the future toward Activision games. Specifically, these questions involved the possibility of Microsoft limiting its rivals’ access to Activision titles. In relation to that, Microsoft’s PC OS rivals were also asked whether it has the ability to make Activision games incompatible with non-Windows systems. 

“Please specify which partial exclusivity strategy or strategies you believe Microsoft would have the ability to deploy with respect to Activision Blizzard’s console games after Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” the questionnaire asked the participants.

The European Commission asked the participants if Microsoft would make Activision content and features exclusively on Xbox, which means blocking their access. It also asked if the company would degrade the quality of Activision games on other consoles and only provide Activision game upgrades solely on Xbox. The document also mentioned the possibility of Microsoft making the games available on rival platforms at a later date and putting a price hike on Activision games on other platforms. With those concerns brought up, the Commission requested the participants to tell the advantages and disadvantages they might encounter if these games were only distributed on a single console.

As expected, Sony’s main concern was also mentioned in the document. In this segment, the recipients were asked for some main alternatives for Call of Duty. They were also given a chance to name a video game franchise they consider the most important for console game distributors to have. 

Aside from those concerns across console and PC markets, the Commission also sought answers about the merger’s impact on the cloud gaming industry once the Activision portfolio is directly injected into the service.

It is hard to say how the participants’ responses will affect the Commission’s decision, but they certainly will. And given the solicited answers will come from Microsoft’s rivals, the Redmond company probably have to expect too little from it. After all, it isn’t just its sole concern now. On Tuesday, Microsoft received another challenge to deal with after a group of gamers filed a lawsuit that aims to stop the merger. Unlike FTC’s argument, the gamers’ concern focuses on how the deal will allegedly make Microsoft more powerful and influential in the gaming industry. 

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