BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union antitrust regulators have asked game developers and distributors if they think Microsoft (MSFT.O) will block their access to Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) games once it buys the company, according to an EU document. By Reuters appears.
The US software giant and Xbox maker announced a $69 billion deal in January to help it better compete with leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T) but faced regulatory headwinds in the European Union, Britain and the United States. .
The European Commission sent out a 91-page questionnaire earlier this month, and the recipients are likely to be gaming companies, including console providers, game publishers, developers, distributors and PC operating system providers, said a person familiar with the matter.
“Please specify any partial exclusivity strategy or strategies that you believe Microsoft has the ability to deploy with respect to Activision Blizzard console games following Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” the survey asked.
The EU antitrust watchdog asked whether such strategies would involve weakening the quality or interoperability of Activision’s games available on competing consoles or providing upgrades for Activision’s Xbox-only games.
Other options were to raise the wholesale price of Activision games for distribution to competing consoles and to make them available on competing consoles at a later date.
The companies were also asked if Microsoft would make some Activision game content and features exclusively available on Xbox but not on competing consoles.
The document also included a question about Activision’s Call of Duty, asking which video game franchise is most important to the console game distributor it offers and what other major alternatives to Call of Duty are.
The regulators asked what advantages and disadvantages game developers, publishers, and distributors of console games might face if the game was exclusively distributed on one console.
They also wanted to see what the impact of competition among cloud game streaming services would be if an integrated Activision wallet would become available as part of that service.
Competing PC operating system providers were asked if Microsoft had the technical ability to prevent Activision games from being compatible with non-Windows operating systems.
Microsoft said it continues to work with the Commission to address any market concerns.
“Sony, as the industry leader, says they have concerns about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we’re committed to making the same game available the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less,” he said. Microsoft spokesperson.
The commission, which was given shortly before Christmas for responses, declined to comment.
Fu Yun Che’s report. Editing by Alexander Smith and Louise Heavens
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