European Union’s executive arm begins investigating the Microsoft-ActiBlizz buyout

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The mega-deal for Microsoft to buy up Activision-Blizzard is once again under a major microscope. The European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union bloc, announced earlier in the week of its intent to investigate the deal in order to ensure that it doesn’t halt competition.

A statement from members of the commission noted this scrutiny is intended to “ensure that the gaming ecosystem remains vibrant to the benefit of users in a sector that is evolving at a fast pace.” Readers will note this is a similar reason given by the US Federal Trade Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority for their own respective investigations of the deal.

Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick put out a press release to investors, commenting that he still expects the deal to go through, affirming the company’s cooperation with regulators, and arguing that the buyout will help keep ABK competitive in the gaming jobs market. “We have been, and will be, in fierce competition to attract and retain the talent we need to create content that will meet the demands of our growing audiences,” reads part of the presser. “Being a part of Microsoft will help us better realize our ambitions and satisfy the high standards of our audiences.”

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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