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EU to Microsoft: Activision Blizzard games on all cloud gaming platforms including TVs

16 May 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

EU has given Microsoft the green light to acquire Activision Blizzard on the condition that all games are offered to all competing cloud game services including on Smart TVs.

The approval from the European Commission comes less than a month after the UK blocked the deal.

EU's concerns are the same; that Microsoft in the next phase of PC and console gaming will opt to limit streaming of Activision Blizzard games to its own Xbox cloud gaming service.

10-year cloud gaming commitments

EU has approved the deal on the following licensing commitments, with a 10-year duration (emphasis theirs):
  • A free license to consumers in the EEA that would allow them to stream, via any cloud game streaming services of their choice, all current and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games for which they have a license.
  • A corresponding free license to cloud game streaming service providers to allow EEA-based gamers to stream any Activision Blizzard's PC and console games. Microsoft had already signed such as agreements with Nvidia's GeForce Now and Boosteroid. Apps for these streaming services are available on select Smart TVs. Microsoft's own Xbox app is available only on Samsung Smart TVs. At this time, Activision Blizzard games are not available on any cloud gaming platforms.

    Activision Blizzard streaming

    EU's graphic to illustrate the situation.

    Activision Blizzard games on Netflix

    If Netflix decides to add a cloud gaming component – which it is working on – Microsoft would also have to offer Netflix all Activision Blizzard games for streaming to Smart TVs, media players, and more. Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest game studios with franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush, Tony Hawk, Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot and StarCraft.

    Roadblocks remain

    Before the deal can go through, Microsoft must convince UK regulator CMA in an appeal that its proposed solution for cloud gaming, which the EU has now accepted, is sufficient not to hinder competition in the gaming market. In addition, the deal must be approved on its home turf, the United States. Also read: EU: Large TV platforms must clearly declare ads and 'recommendations' - "Video games attract billions of users all over the world. In such a fast-growing and dynamic industry, it is crucial to protect competition and innovation. Our decision represents an important step in this direction, by bringing Activision’s popular games to many more devices and consumers than before thanks to cloud game streaming. The commitments offered by Microsoft will enable for the first time the streaming of such games in any cloud game streaming services, enhancing competition and opportunities for growth," said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy - Source: EU
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