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Statement on EU Decision on Microsoft / Activision Merger

EU ignores overwhelming evidence of harm to a nascent industry

May 15, 2023

The following statement can be attributed to George Rakis, Executive Director for NextGen Competition (

News that the European Union's antitrust regulators decided to approve Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard is beyond disappointing and terrible for gamers worldwide. We had hoped the European Commission would echo the series of concerns flagged by regulators in the United Kingdom and the U.S. But despite the overwhelming evidence of harm to a nascent industry, the EU sided with Big Tech.

Given the company's history of misleading European regulators, it baffles that the EU would take Microsoft at its word. Microsoft is already under investigation in the EU for abusing its dominance in cloud services. Microsoft has admitted that its conduct toward EU cloud service providers has led itself, Google, and Amazon to capture more market share. This admission is contained in Microsoft's recently announced "European Cloud Principles," which it drafted in an attempt to mollify EU regulators concerned about its cloud practices.

That the EC would approve the largest tech merger in history, in this environment, calls into question the continent's reputation of leading the charge to rein in Big Tech. Microsoft has been very busy during the EU investigation cutting deals and promising to preserve Call of Duty access, but other regulators see through this tactic. UK and U.S. regulators are moving away from an outdated approach of seeking behavioral remedies for firms like Microsoft that time and again have proven their word isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

It wasn't long ago that Microsoft acquired ZeniMax and almost immediately began making specific titles from ZeniMax's Bethesda studio exclusive to XBox. This situation contradicted Microsoft's arguments to the European Commission that it lacked the incentive to foreclose rival console manufacturers.

Microsoft's attempted acquisition of Activision creates serious competition concerns, and they cannot be addressed with a few one-off licensing deals about specific games. Microsoft has already shown us what they will do if this deal is allowed to progress. The FTC and CMA must remain committed to challenging this deal and the countless issues that continue to go unaddressed. The EU got it wrong; for the sake of consumers, the FTC and CMA must get it right.

About NextGen Competition

Our mission is to support a robust and competitive technology ecosystem by opposing anti-competitive business practices and promoting greater industry accountability. Specifically, we oppose consolidation in the industry that undermines worker protections and employer accountability, threatens data privacy and security, encourages market concentration, and limits consumer choice. NextGen Competition intends to work with a broad coalition of unions and public interest partners as it seeks to oppose anti-competitive business practices.