Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision-Blizzard has been given the green light by the European Union on the condition that Microsoft resolves the cloud-gaming difficulties that have slowed the transaction in other jurisdictions. Customers would benefit greatly from the deal, which includes the guaranteed ability to stream Activision games.
The United Kingdom continues to block Microsoft’s planned $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, maker of games including Diablo IV, Wow, Call of Duty, and Sweet Crush. The main argument against the deal is that the merged company would create a video gaming leviathan. The UK and EU were both concerned about the effects of cloud video gaming, therefore Microsoft’s concessions to the EU are excellent news for players.
In particular, the EU and Microsoft reached an understanding on:
- Microsoft would provide free licences to EU users that would allow them to stream any current or future PC and console games published by Activision Blizzard through any cloud video game streaming service of their choosing.
- A matching licence would be issued to cloud gaming providers, allowing users in the European Union to stream any of Activision Blizzard’s PC and console titles for free.
- The duration of both deals is 10 years.
Keep in mind, as the EU does, that Activision Blizzard does not permit streaming of any of its video games on consoles or personal computers. In addition to its usual offerings, Wowitself is primarily a cloud-based service, therefore it counts among these hits.
You may be surprised to learn that the offer is backed by a number of certificates. For one, if a gamer presently subscribes to a service that includes Activision games (like Microsoft’s Game Pass), the gamer may stream those games from any cloud provider, including a free one, and on any operating system the gamer chooses. The “exact same quality and material as video games available for conventional download” should apply to cloud streaming services as well.
The EU noted that cloud gaming companies have shown interest in the offer and that some have already shown interest in licences. Whatever the case, the EU’s verdict seems reasonable: “These commitments fully resolve the competitors issues recognised by the Commission and represent a substantial improvement for cloud video game streaming compared to the existing circumstance.”
The United Kingdom may accept these changes as well. If that happens, Microsoft’s sway over the game industry would only grow.
Author: Mark Hachman, Senior Editor