Regulators in Europe, the UK, and especially the US are casting a concerned eye on Microsoft's plan to purchase Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. However, in Japan the country's trade regulator has given the deal the go ahead. This represents a major hurdle cleared for Microsoft as Japan is the second-largest gaming market.
The approval also allows Microsoft to potentially grow its market share in Japan. While Xbox is popular around the world, its market share in Japan is tiny. Local providers Nintendo and Sony enjoy much more success in the country.
And in some ways, the makes the relatively easy regulatory approval in Japan interesting. Sony has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition. The company argues Microsoft will make major franchises like Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox. Sony also reportedly thinks Microsoft will actively sabotage games it does allow on other platforms.
Any suggestion Japanese regulators would thwart Microsoft's plans to help Sony have now been squashed. Nintendo stricking a 10-year deal with Microsoft to have Call of Duty on its consoles may have been a help for regulators. Certainly, it shows Microsoft is willing to make concessions to avoid accusations of the deal harming competition.
Another potential hurdle has been cleared in the big Xbox, Activision-Blizzard merger.
Regulators in the UK, EU, and US are said to be collaborating and if one makes a positive decision for Microsoft, the others will follow. Over the last week, the CMA in the UK reduced its concerns following meetings with Microsoft. It is also believed the European Commission is happy with concessions Microsoft is making.
If these two notoriously strict regulators approve the deal, the FTC in the US may be forced to follow their lead. However, the US is the most complex market for Microsoft as it is battling the FTC in courts to get the merger through.
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