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EU regulators ask developers to weigh in on Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal

EU antitrust regulators have been quizzing game developers about the potential pitfalls of Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition.

As reported by Reuters, those involved in reviewing the deal want to know whether developers feel Microsoft will be incentivised to make some of Activision Blizzard’s largest franchises platform exclusive, essentially blocking rivals from accessing blockbuster titles.

EU regulators will make a preliminary decision on whether or not to sanction the deal by November 8, 2022, and have also asked devs whether they feel Activision Blizzard’s user data cache might give the Xbox maker a competitive advantage when it comes to developing and publishing new games.

In the questionnaire sent out to developers, regulators sought to understand whether the deal would affect the bargaining power of publishers and distributors seeking to sell console and PC titles on Microsoft platforms and services, including Xbox Game Pass.

Developers were also questioned about the broader impact exclusivity clauses might have on the operating system ecosystem, and to explain whether they feel the deal might give Microsoft’s Windows OS an edge over its rivals.

Unsurprisingly, regulators seem keen to collection information on the commercial importance of the Call of Duty franchise, and have asked developers how valuable the series is for console game distributors and game streaming providers.

Regulators were also keen to glean which of Microsoft’s rivals developers would consider the most attractive proposition following the potential deal, touting services and platforms such as PlayStation, Amazon Luna, Facebook Gaming, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Google Stadia — the latter of which is not long for this world.

Developers were presented with around 100 questions in total and have until October 10, 2022, to submit their responses. With less than a month to go until EU regulators have to provide a preliminary decision, we won’t have to wait long to find out which way they’re leaning.

As regulators in some parts of the world continue to ponder and probe the seismic $68.7 billion acquisition, others in regions such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia have already signed off on the transaction.