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EU to make preliminary ruling on Microsoft's $7.5 billion acquisition of Zenimax by March 5

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The EU's antitrust regulators will soon decide whether to wave-through Microsoft's proposed $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media, with a filing released today setting a provisional deadline of 5 March (thanks, Reuters). Microsoft requested approval from the European Commission on January 29.

Zenimax represents the largest gaming-focused acquisition in Microsoft's history, and if cleared the deal would see various top-tier studios joining the Xbox division: including Arkane, Besthesda, id Software, Machinegames, Tango Gameworks, and Zenimax Online Studios. The EU will now be undergoing a preliminary review of the acquisition, after which it can approve the deal, approve it with caveats, or open an investigation.

The deal was announced in September 2020 and was one of the year's biggest surprises, on the corporate side of gaming at least. Phil Spencer says the plan is to leave Zenimax well alone and let it get on with making great games, though if Microsoft's past form is anything to go by, the proof will be in the pudding. Microsoft is building quite the portfolio of first-party studios now, and says it ain't done yet

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."