EU is about to launch an 'advanced probe' into the Microsoft Activision deal, sources say

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(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)
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Sources tell Politico (opens in new tab) that the European Commission plans to open an in-depth, "Phase 2" investigation into Microsoft's $68 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The commission is said to be launching the investigation after Microsoft decided against filing remedies—commitments that would satisfy the Commission's worries regarding the deal—before a deadline of midnight tonight.

Just like the Brazilian (opens in new tab) and UK market regulators (opens in new tab), the European Commission's issues stem largely from worries that Microsoft's ownership of Activision would close off its competitors' access (or Sony's access, if we're being specific) to Call of Duty, despite Microsoft's repeated insistence that it will keep the series on PlayStation (opens in new tab).

Politico also reports that the European Commission has been making inquiries of Microsoft's rivals about its cloud services, which came up a lot in Microsoft's recent submission (opens in new tab) to the UK Competition and Market Authority (CMA). 

It's probably not the reaction Microsoft was hoping for from the European Commission. The company would no doubt prefer every country to wave the deal through as easily as Saudi Arabia did (opens in new tab), but it looks like Microsoft's lawyers are going to have to pen a lengthy submission to European regulators just like they did for the UK.

On the plus side (at least for us), Microsoft's submission to the UK CMA revealed all sorts of interesting tidbits, like how a deal between Sony and Activision is somehow keeping Call of Duty off of Game Pass (opens in new tab). We also learned that Microsoft isn't quite as bullish on cloud gaming (opens in new tab) in private as they are on gaming convention stages, and that the company thinks we should all stop worrying about Call of Duty exclusivity because, hey, what if the future games suck as much as Vanguard did (opens in new tab)?

Who knows what we'll learn next? If Microsoft really does miss tonight's deadline to file remedies, the European Commission will have until November 8 to announce a full investigation of the acquisition. And then, we can but hope, comes even more revealing paperwork.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.