Today EGDF was invited to join a formal European Commission oral hearing on the acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard by Microsoft. EGDF underlined that the more global platforms and publishers compete on European content, the better for European game developers. In particular, EGDF highlighted that:
- Game markets have changed.
The Commission should widen its perspective from console market sector-specific competition concerns to evaluating the impact of the acquisition on game markets in general. In recent years, Tencent has invested in game developer studios and publishers across the globe, and it is currently the biggest game developer and publisher on the planet. It is crucial for European game developers to have a strong competitor for Tencent, as a game developer, publisher and investor, in the global game markets.
- The future is cross-platform.
On the other hand, new game engines have made multiplatform game development easier than before, and game developers are constantly experimenting on different platforms and are ready to move from one platform to another. On the other hand, the processing power of smartphones has reached the level of some laptops and consoles. As a result, game genres that were once exclusive to PC or console are now available on cross-platform stores like Microsoft Store (console + PC + mobile) and Google Play (mobile + PC).
When Digital Markets Act (DMA) fully opens mobile gatekeeper platforms for competing third-party application stores in the EU. ActivisionBlizzard acquisition enables Microsoft to widen its scope to mobile platforms and challenge Apple and Google. By doing so, Microsoft is paving the way for European game industry SMEs with insufficient financial resources to build their own third-party application stores under the current legal uncertainty. Similarly, after Google killed its own subscription service, Stadia, it is essential to have a strong competitor for Apple in the game subscription services on Apple platforms.
- The future is uncertain.
Games are the forerunner of digital markets. What makes financial sense today does not necessarily do so tomorrow. All Microsoft commitments should be backed up with rigorous compliance and enforcement mechanisms. E.g.should the Commission want to ensure that Call of Duty is available to competitors, it should also secure content, feature, price and release date parity while doing so.
EGDF supports Microsoft’s ActivisionBlizzard acquisition, as its potential positive impacts on the competition in the game markets, in general, outweigh the limited console and subscription market-specific competition concerns.
The full EGDF position on the acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard by Microsoft from December 2022 can be accessed here: https://www.egdf.eu/documentation/5-fair-digital-markets/how-to-secure-fair-competition-2023/microsoft-activisionblizzard-acquisition-2022/
Jari-Pekka Kaleva, tel: +358 40 716 3640
Managing Director, European Games Developer Federation (EGDF)