Exclusive: Microsoft set to win EU nod on Activision with licensing offer, sources say

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With reports circulating that Microsoft is set to win regulatory approval from the European Union for its $9 billion acquisition of game developer Activision Blizzard, it appears that the software giant’s charm offensive with gaming regulators may have finally paid off.

Since first announcing its intention to acquire the largest third-party game publisher in the world back in December, Microsoft has been working tirelessly to win over the EU’s Competition Commission, which has been investigating the deal for potential antitrust concerns.

Microsoft’s offer to the EU is said to revolve around licensing terms for some of its first-party franchises, such as Halo and Gears of War, to other Xbox platform partners. This would, in theory, allow other console makers to publish and sell games featuring Microsoft-owned properties, thereby increasing competition in the console market and giving consumers more choice.

While the EU is yet to officially comment on the matter, sources close to the situation claim that the Commission is now leaning towards approving the deal, with a decision expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

This would be a huge victory for Microsoft, and would no doubt be celebrated by the company’s gaming division as a big win for the Xbox platform. However, it remains to be seen what effect, if any, this would have on the increasing rivalry between Microsoft and Sony in the console space.

In related news, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States has ordered Sony to reveal any exclusive deals it has with third-party publishers, following an investigation into the company’s marketing practices.

The FTC is said to be concerned that Sony may be stifling competition in the console market by paying publishers for exclusive rights to their games, preventing them from releasing them on other platforms.

While the EU investigation into Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal is not directly related to this, it is interesting to note that both agencies are taking a closer look at the business practices of the two console giants.

It will be interesting to see how these two stories develop over the coming weeks and months, and what effect they will have on the ongoing rivalry between Microsoft and Sony.

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