Opposition to the acquisition has centered in part on so-called cloud gaming, a relatively new technology that lets people stream games on phones, tablets and other devices, potentially eliminating the need for hardware like consoles. American and British regulators said Microsoft’s purchase of Activision would undercut this still-developing sector of the gaming industry before it had a chance to bloom. The European Commission, the executive body for the 27-nation bloc, gave its approval after Microsoft agreed to guarantee that gamers would be able to play Activision titles on cloud gaming services being developed by other companies, such as Nvidia.
After negotiating the concessions with Microsoft, European Union officials said they concluded that the deal could go through, particularly because the cloud gaming market is still so small.
“These commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the commission,” the E.U. regulators said in a statement.
The European Commission also said the deal would not harm the console market because Microsoft would not have an incentive to deny rivals, such as the Sony PlayStation, access to Activision titles without sacrificing profit. In the European Union, PlayStation has a much larger market share than Xbox. Authorities also noted that Microsoft and Activision have a relatively small market share for mobile games, which accounts for about half of the overall video game market in European Union.
The approval is a rare occasion where European regulators appear to be more accommodating to the tech industry than the United States. For years, European antitrust regulators, under Margrethe Vestager, have aggressively gone after big tech companies such as Google, issuing billions of dollars of fines and ordering changes to certain business practices.