Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters
BRUSSELS — Microsoft said Tuesday it will bring its Xbox PC games to Nvidia’s cloud gaming service.
The announcement comes after Microsoft President Brad Smith met with European Union officials on Tuesday in a bid to convince them that its proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard will be good for competition. Microsoft is fighting to stop the takeover being blocked.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a press conference that, effective immediately, its Xbox games will be available on Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud games service. Smith said if the Activision deal closes, it will bring all Activision Blizzard titles to GeForce Now.
Microsoft proposed its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard in January 2022, but since then has faced pushback from regulators in the U.S., European Union and U.K.
In November, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, opened an in-depth investigation into the deal citing concerns that it could reduce competition in the video games market.
Activision is the company behind popular game franchise Call of Duty. The EU commission said last year it is concerned that Microsoft could block access to the game on other platforms if the deal goes through.
The commission is also concerned that it could give Microsoft an unfair edge in the nascent area of cloud gaming. Microsoft has a product called Game Pass where it charges $9.99 to users to access a library of games. The Activision takeover would add some high-profile titles to Game Pass.
In December, Microsoft said it had “entered into a 10-year commitment” to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo when the Activision acquisition closes. The announcement was seen as a move to assuage regulators’ antitrust concerns. On Tuesday, Smith tweeted that the two signs have now signed a “binding 10-year legal agreement” to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo players on the same day as Microsoft’s Xbox, “with full feature and content parity.”
Smith on Tuesday led a delegation that included Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and Activision CEO Robert Kotick, Reuters reported citing a European Commission document that the news agency had seen. Sony’s gaming chief Jim Ryan was also in attendance, Reuters added. Sony, Microsoft’s biggest rival, is against the Activision takeover.
Sony was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
It’s not only European regulators that have concerns about the deal.
The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said this month that the takeover raises competition concerns and may result in higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation. The regulator said it could move to block the deal.
In December, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an antitrust case against Microsoft attempting to block the Activision deal.
Microsoft has maintained that its takeover of Activision will not harm competition in the video games market and instead increase competition against large players like Sony and Chinese giant Tencent.
Microsoft has remained behind the likes of Sony and Nintendo in the video games market. Microsoft’s Xbox console has lagged Sony’s PlayStation 5 and the Nintendo Switch. Sony and Nintendo’s popularity has come from its large number of hit first-party games. Microsoft is looking to boost its games library with the Activision acquisition.
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