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EU sends formal warning to Microsoft over $69 bn Activision Blizzard deal

The European Union (EU) has issued a formal antitrust warning to Microsoft over the $69 billion Activision Blizzard deal.

The EU sent Microsoft a “statement of objections” on why the deal could threaten competition in the video games market, US-based Politico has reported.

In response, Microsoft said that it was “listening carefully to the European Commission’s concerns” and was confident that it could “address them”. The Redmond-based technology giant said that it was committed to, “finding a path forward” so that it can close the deal.

This is just the latest roadblock in what has been a rocky road for Microsoft to push the deal through.

In December 2022, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Microsoft to stop the merger. The FTC brought up many of the same objections that the EU was concerned with.

The bone of contention is the lucrative Call of Duty franchise. Microsoft has stated multiple times that it would not make Call of Duty exclusive to its hardware and even signed a 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring the games to its platform.

The FTC also cited Microsoft’s previous acquisition of ZeniMax, parent company to Bethesda Game Studios, makers of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

Microsoft decided to make Bethesda’s upcoming games Starfield and Redfall exclusives to its platform despite assurances to the EU that it won’t do so.

Sony, Microsoft’s rival in the console space, too is unhappy with the deal. It has repeatedly turned down offers from Microsoft.

Google and Nvidia, too, have jumped in and told the FTC that Microsoft would gain an unfair advantage in mobile, subscription, and cloud services if the merger was allowed to go through.

Microsoft is racing against the clock to close the deal by July 18 or it will have to pay a fee of $3 billion.

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