A hearing took place at the European Commission in Brussels today related to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Afterwards, Microsoft held a press conference and announced that they’ve signed a deal to bring all Xbox PC games to Nvidia’s cloud service GeForce Now. The deal includes Call Of Duty, if Microsoft come to own it.
“We have signed a 10 year agreement with NVIDIA that will allow GeForce NOW players to stream Xbox PC games as well as Activision Blizzard PC titles, including COD, following the acquisition,” tweeted head of Xbox Phil Spencer. “We’re committed to bringing more games to more people – however they choose to play.”
“Through this partnership, more of the world’s most popular titles will now be available from the cloud with just a click, playable by millions more gamers,” said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president for GeForce, in a press release about the deal. The press release further states that the partnership “resolves Nvidia’s concerns wth Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Nvidia is therefore offering its full support for regulatory approval of the acquisition.”
A similar deal has reportedly been offered but not accepted by Sony.
Microsoft announced their intention to purchase Activision Blizzard for $69 billion last year, but they face concerns from regulators in the US, UK and EU. The US Federal Trade Commission have filed a suit to block the deal, with initial hearings planned for August 2023.
Earlier today, Microsoft signed a similar 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring Call Of Duty to Nintendo’s platforms.
These are obvious attempts to reassure regulators and competitors that Microsoft owning Activision Blizzard would be totally cool and not at all a problem. I don’t know how regulators will see these deals, but personally I don’t know how a time-limited partnership addresses the underlying issue of Microsoft owning such a huge swathe of video games. It would just seem to delay the inevitable moment where they ruthlessly exploit their market position rather than eliminate that moment entirely. It’s also worth noting that initial investigations by the UK’s Competition & Market’s Authority suggest that Nvidia GeForce Now control just 10-20% of the cloud gaming marketversus Microsoft’s 60-70%.