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EU Regulators Reportedly Seek Acquisition Feedback from Microsoft Competitors

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The European Commission has sought feedback on Microsoft's planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard from some of Microsoft's most prominent competitors to help determine the deal's potential to stifle competition in the games industry, Reuters reported Friday.

Reuters obtained a document European antitrust regulators sent to a group of game developers, publishers and distributors asking whether the deal would negatively affect their ability to negotiate terms when selling games via Xbox and PC, or when placing their games on Game Pass.

The questionnaire also asked whether Microsoft would be incentivized to make Activision Blizzard franchises such as Call of Duty, Diablo and Overwatch exclusive to Xbox and PC, how important Call of Duty is to console game distributors and game subscription and cloud streaming service providers, and which of Microsoft's chief rivals would be most attractive from among Nvidia's GeForce Now, Sony's PlayStation, Amazon Luna and Facebook Gaming.

The questionnaire included around 100 questions in total, and respondents have until Oct. 10 to provide answers. The European Commission will make a preliminary decision about whether to approve Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Nov. 8. The Commission is expected to open a four-month investigation into the deal after that date.

Scrutiny of the acquisition has heated up internationally over the months since its announcement. The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority will publish the findings of its own inquiry into the deal by March 1, 2023. The American Federal Trade Commission could approve or block the deal as early as late November. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense approved the deal Wednesday.