Cloud Gaming Providers Globally Would Get 10-Year Activision Blizzard License if Microsoft’s Deal Is Approved

Whereas much of the early discourse surrounding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard focused on what would happen to the console market if Call of Duty became an Xbox exclusive, regulators from the European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed that the primary concern is the cloud gaming market.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority actually elected to block the deal in late April on the basis that having those IPs would allow Microsoft, which they already considered a dominant player in the cloud gaming market, to foreclose competitors even in the face of the multiple 10-year deals Microsoft signed them in prior weeks (and said competitors actually rooting for the deal to go through).

On the other hand, the European Union decided to approve the deal earlier today while forcing Microsoft to employ specific remedies that would benefit consumers and other players in the cloud gaming market. The remedies are, according to the press release:

  • 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.

Those are some very favorable conditions for both consumers and cloud gaming platforms. While the EU can only enforce those in the European Union, Microsoft president Brad Smith confirmed on Twitter that they would actually apply globally, provided that the deal goes through. That means cloud gaming providers everywhere could request a free license to stream Activision Blizzard games on their platforms.

Unfortunately, despite the EU’s fresh stamp of approval, the deal is still more likely to fall through than not due to the CMA’s staunch opposition. Following today’s announcement, they released a statement proclaiming that Microsoft’s proposals would allow the company to ‘set the terms and conditions for the cloud gaming market for the next ten years’.

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are due to appeal the CMA’s decision in the coming weeks.

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