New Zealand Regulator Shares Concerns Over Xbox's Activision Blizzard Takeover

We've got another development in the Activision Blizzard saga! The New Zealand Commerce Commission has officially asked for an extension before making a decision on the takeover, with the date now set as July 17th, 2023.

The Commission's concerns are centred mainly around cloud gaming, with a statement suggesting the deal could "substantially lessen competition due to vertical effects in the distribution of video games for cloud gaming services".

"At this stage, the focus of our investigation is whether the Proposed Acquisition is likely to substantially lessen competition due to vertical effects in the distribution of video games for cloud gaming services."

"We are concerned that these effects may arise as a result of the merged entity either partially or fully foreclosing its rivals in cloud gaming, such as Sony or NVIDIA, from accessing certain Activision content, and in particular the game Call of Duty (CoD), to the detriment of competition in cloud gaming."

It's also still being considered whether the deal would lessen competition in the console market, although as mentioned in the quote above, this doesn't seem to be the main "focus" of the Commission's concerns right now.

"We are considering whether the merged entity would have the ability and incentive to foreclose its rivals, or potential rivals:

9.1 in cloud gaming, by refusing to license Activision content to them in New Zealand; or 9.2 in video game consoles, by making all or certain Activision content available exclusively on Xbox (and/or Game Pass) or degrading the quality of Activision content on rival console platforms."

Microsoft agreed the extension time with the New Zealand Commerce Commission recently, which means the original decision date of June 9th has now been pushed forward by just over a month.

It's yet another thread of the Activision Blizzard drama for us to keep an eye on over the next few weeks, with the UK CMA and U.S. FTC also heavily involved in concerns over the acquisition right now.

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