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EU to launch advanced Microsoft-Activision probe

The European Commission is set to launch an in-depth investigation into Microsoft’s record $69 billion splash on games developer Activision-Blizzard after the U.S. tech giant opted not to file remedies to the EU’s antitrust enforcers, people familiar with the matter told POLITICO.  

Microsoft had a deadline of midnight tonight to submit commitments placating the concerns of the EU’s competition department, but the company chose not to do so, according to two individuals close to the matter who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of the case.

The European Commission has a deadline of November 8 to formally announce its intention to launch a so-called Phase 2 investigation into the deal.

In documents previously obtained by POLITICO, the European Commission had been quizzing Microsoft’s rivals about the company’s activity in cloud gaming and services, as well as the risk that the firm could foreclose access to Activision’s hugely popular game “Call of Duty.”

A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company is “continuing to work with the European Commission on next steps and to address any valid marketplace concerns” and that it would make Call of Duty “available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation.”

The European Commission didn’t respond to POLITICO’s request for comment.

In mid-September, the U.K.’s competition watchdog deepened its investigation into Microsoft’s swoop for Activision-Blizzard, after the firms failed to address issues over the tie-up.

The deal is also being reviewed in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Brazil cleared the deal unconditionally, following earlier Saudi Arabian approval. 

This article is part of POLITICO Pro

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