Activision Acquisition Scrutiny is ‘Fair and Honest’ Says Xbox Boss

When asked about regulator scrutiny of Microsoft‘s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Xbox boss Phil Spencer says that discussions have been « fair and honest. » Microsoft‘s acquisition of the video game publisher has been slowed down in both the European Union and the United Kingdom as regulators analyze whether the deal could be anticompetitive. Microsoft has largely remained quiet on the subject, making Spencer’s comments particularly interesting.

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While a significant amount of focus has been placed on Xbox potentially making Call of Duty an exclusive or making the franchise available through Xbox Game Pass, the bigger picture can often be ignored. Microsoft is the third-largest company in the world, based on market cap. Its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is the largest in the video game industry by over five times. If the acquisition goes through, it could have major ramifications within the industry, and regulators are clearly aware of that.

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Spencer is more than aware of that as well. That’s why he’s actively involved in ongoing discussions, confirming that he’s « spending a lot of time in Brussels, London, and with the FTC here in the US. » He acknowledges that Microsoft’s role and size mean that the discussion with regulators is « warranted. » He says that it’s a « big acquisition, » after all. Nevertheless, Microsoft and Spencer remain « very focused » on getting approval the USA, UK, and Europe.

Accepting that the additional scrutiny from regulators is fair is one thing, but that comes alongside a belief and confidence that the acquisition will be completed. Spencer says, « we’ll get the deal approved, » and that’s why he’s spending so much time continuing to have discussions with regulatory boards. It’s rare for acquisitions to be blocked, even for such large companies, though nothing is certain at this point in the process. Many expected the acquisition to have been completed by now.

It’s good that Spencer was willing to do a public interview where he at least briefly discussed Microsoft’s ongoing acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The discourse surrounding Sony’s stance in opposition of the acquisition and Microsoft’s comments in response have created a toxic atmosphere, particularly among console fans. Conveying that the acquisition is normal and that this is part of a fair process is healthy and will hopefully temper some frustrations within the gaming community.

There’s no official word regarding what will happen next regarding the Activision Blizzard acquisition. Microsoft‘s original plan was for the acquisition to take the full year of 2022 to complete, which may still be the case. It’s also more than possible that the acquisition’s completion will be delayed into 2023. If anyone knows what’s going to happen next, they’re not saying.

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Source: WSJ

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