A new Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report says Microsoft is facing even more opposition to its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, as Nvidia and Google have raised their own concerns about the deal with the FTC.
Sources told the site that both companies said in comments to the FTC that the deal could give Microsoft an unfair advantage in cloud gaming, subscription-based gaming services and mobile gaming. That supports the FTC’s position in her lawsuit to stop the deal (opens in new tab)filed in December 2022 over concerns that Microsoft will use Activision Blizzard property “to harm competition in multiple dynamic and high-growth gaming markets.”
Sony has been the most outspoken opponent of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard for obvious reasons, but Nvidia and Google also have dogs in the fray. Nvidia runs the GeForce now (opens in new tab) cloud gaming service and may be concerned about the possibility of Activision Blizzard’s games becoming exclusive to competing Microsoft games. Xbox Cloud gaming (opens in new tab) maintenance. The report says Nvidia was not directly opposed to the deal, but “emphasized the need for equal and open access to game titles”.
Google recently pulled the plug on its own cloud gaming service Stadia, but could see similar issues on the mobile front. An often overlooked part of Activision Blizzard (at least from a PC gaming perspective) is mobile game developer King. (That’s why the company is sometimes called ABK (opens in new tab).) King is a big money maker for Activision Blizzard, but more importantly, it’s the developer of some hugely popular mobile games like Candy Crush. Microsoft recently expressed interest in launching its own mobile game store (opens in new tab), and it’s not unreasonable to think King games could become a store exclusive as a result – not the end of the world for Google, but not great either. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has also previously stated that Microsoft would like Activision for it mobile gaming capabilities (opens in new tab).
A Microsoft representative told Bloomberg that the company is “willing to and has proactively addressed issues raised by regulators or competitors to ensure the deal is closed with confidence,” adding, “We want people to be more have access to games, no less.”
The initial expectation was that Microsoft would eventually make it through Blizzard’s acquisition of Activision just bring up (opens in new tab), and I think that’s still the smart bet. But resistance to the takeover appears to be growing rather than declining: The FTC is the only regulatory body taking action against the deal, but both the UK (opens in new tab) and the EU (opens in new tab) have also refused to simply hand wave their approval.
The growing opposition could at least force Microsoft to make more concessions regarding access to Activision Blizzard games, similar to the 10-year agreements it made with Nintendo and Steam in December 2022. And as Nvidia well knows, it’s no further than belief that the FTC could destroy the deal outright: Nvidia sunk (opens in new tab) his bid to acquire British chipmaker Arm in 2022, not long after the FTC sued to stop that deal (opens in new tab).