Microsoft Seeks to Push Activision Deal at EU Hearing for Market Competition

Gaming

Microsoft President Brad Smith on Tuesday will seek to convince EU antitrust regulators at a closed hearing that the US software giant’s $69 billion (nearly Rs. 5,71,800 crore) bid for Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard will boost competition.

Smith will lead a delegation of 18 senior executives, including Microsoft Gaming Chief Executive Officer Phil Spencer, while Activision will be represented by its CEO Robert Kotick, a European Commission document seen by Reuters showed.

The hearing will allow Xbox maker Microsoft to gauge the mood among senior EU and national competition officials and European Commission lawyers ahead of the submission of remedies to address antitrust concerns.

“I think we will make clear that our acquisition of Activision Blizzard will bring more games to more people on more devices and platforms than ever before,” Smith told reporters on his way to the hearing.

Microsoft was willing to address concerns with Call of Duty licensing offers similar to the 10-year deal with Nintendo and regulatory undertakings, Smith added, without providing any further details.

Microsoft announced the Activision acquisition in January last year to take on leaders Tencent and Sony, but has run into regulatory headwinds in Europe, Britain and the United States.

Sony, which wants the deal to be blocked, sent its gaming chief Jim Ryan.

Alphabet’s Google and chip designer and computing firm Nvidia, which has a gaming business, also took part in the hearing.

“The European Commission asked for our views in the course of their inquiries into this issue. We will continue to cooperate in any processes, when requested, to ensure all views are considered,” a Google spokesperson said.

Nvidia declined to comment. The European Games Developer Federation, which has said the deal will allow Microsoft to challenge Apple, Google and Tencent, is one of the participants.

Video game distributor Valve, video game publisher Electronic Arts and the German competition watchdog and its peers in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden will also be taking part in the event.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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