China approves Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard

May 24, 2023 1:43 am

China has joined more than 30 other jurisdictions in approving Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the Seattle-headquartered software giant confirmed Monday.

"China's unconditional approval of our acquisition of Activision Blizzard follows approval decisions from jurisdictions such as the European Union and Japan, bringing the total to 37 countries representing a population of more than 2 billion. This acquisition adds to our recent approval of the European Commission Commitment will empower consumers to play more games on more devices around the world," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a release.

Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, and others are among the 37 countries that have approved the deal.

The $68.7 billion deal has faced a series of challenges since the first day it was proposed.

In a bid to accelerate the growth in its gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud, Microsoft brought out the $68.7 billion acquisition plan of Activision Blizzard last June.

The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from the Activision, Blizzard, and King studios like “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the world with nearly 10,000 employees.

When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. 

However, considering the scale and size of the deal, the giant have to obtain antitrust approval before taking ownership of the gaming firm. The UK in April blocked the deal over concerns it would hinder competition in cloud gaming. The US Federal Trade Commission is also seeking to block it.

Despite Activision Blizzard's global reputation and significant influence as a leading game company, its footprint in China remains minimal. Previously, it is entangled in disagreements with its Chinese market partner NetEase.

In the wake of its licensing agreement with NetEase expiring in December 2022, Activision Blizzard is in pursuit of a new local partner. That led to a suspension of sales of Blizzard games in the country, including popular titles such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch.