Brazil’s antitrust authority is the second major regulatory body to grant Microsoft unconditional approval to acquire Activision Blizzard. Saudi Arabia approved the acquisition in August.
News of the approval comes via Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents, who notes that “Brazil … says its job is to protect consumers rather than Sony and Google.” Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) said that it approved the acquisition unconditionally, meaning that Microsoft will not need to make any concessions. That said, other regulatory bodies in the EU and U.S. are likely to impose conditions before approving the deal.
“The Brazilian process was very transparent, with public versions being published of each and every submission and order,” Mueller explains. “Sony argued that Activision’s Call of Duty was a must-have title for the PlayStation and constituted a market of its own; Microsoft pointed to Sony’s practice of acquiring ‘blocking rights’ so that certain content cannot be made available on other gaming consoles (such as Microsoft’s Xbox).”
Regarding the competitive concerns, Brazil apparently decided that Call of Duty is “relevant and popular” but “not essential” for Microsoft’s competitors. “Even in a hypothetical scenario of Microsoft making Activision Blizzard’s titles exclusive to Microsoft’s ecosystem, there wouldn’t be a substantial reduction of the intensity of competition in the relevant markets,” Mueller writes.
As I’m sure you know, Microsoft announced in January that it would acquire Activision Blizzard for $67.8 billion and it has always expected this deal to move slowly due to regulatory concerns. The deal is expected to be finalized by mid-2023.