EU says OK to Acti-Blizzard union

Antitrust body deems $18.9 billion merger of publishing powerhouses would not create unfair competition.

by

Today, Activision and Vivendi Games cleared yet one more hurdle lying in the path of their $18.9 billion merger. The European Commission, which is part of the European Union, has approved the deal under its antitrust guidelines, concluding that an Activision Vivendi mash-up "would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it."

According to the EC's report, the merger's reach was measured on both a horizontal and vertical scale. In terms of horizontal competition, the EC deemed the Vivendi-Activision union would "continue to face several strong, effective competitors, such as Electronic Arts, and the game console manufacturers, such as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft."

Addressing vertical synergies, the EC noted that Vivendi's ownership of Universal Music Group would give Activision an advantage in licensing music but concluded that other publishers would continue to have access to a "sufficiently large portfolio of music rights from alternative suppliers." The EC also noted that the merger would not impact wholesale distribution competition of PC games in the UK.

In February, soon-to-be Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said that the merger was progressing as anticipated and was expected to conclude by June. To secure its 52 percent controlling stake in the newly formed conglomerate, Vivendi has undertaken several financing initiatives, including securing loans to the tune of €4 billion (about $6.3 billion) by January as well as banking an additional $1.4 billion earlier this month from the issuance of corporate bonds to various banking institutions.

Discussion

69 comments
thehip81
thehip81

Soldier3106: Au Contraire, naive conservative one... In case you haven't seen the latest statistics, the current economic system has only worked to widen the increasingly growing gap between the rich and the poor. The middle and lower-income brackets have been taking it up the (you know what, rhymes with ga$) for the past two centuries as the rich get rich, and the poor -- poorer. It is precisely mergers like these that concentrate wealth in increasingly fewer hands.. (And, I might add, lead to increasingly shoddy and unoriginal production value in videogames -- See: EA buying out Westwood Studios, EA in general, ...) I fail to see how the EU does not see this merger as a significant threat to decent competition in the industry.. Oh no, they'll face competition from ONE company EA..... That sounds like a credible threat that will server the consumers interests.. Right?? WRONG! There is nothing to prevent these two companies from driving up prices by acting in unison for both their mutual interests, either as a cartel or not... The industry WILL be stifled... One more reason for me to support the small, break-away start-ups like ArenaNet (that broke away from Blizzard a few years ago...)

soldier3106
soldier3106

@bigpimppapa : Sure, go complain about an economic system that has been increasing world wide prosperity for over 2 centuries.

oo_snitz
oo_snitz

Why Activision Blizzard and not Blizzard Vision.

fuzzy_hippo
fuzzy_hippo

I dont really care about the merge if it means better quality games. EU will probably benifit economically.

bigpimppapa
bigpimppapa

Who really cares! They are just Capitalist Pigs

MrPlow69
MrPlow69

Hmm...well as long as these financial decisions won't force the direction to put pressure on the game dev department, we should still be able to get great games out of this deal...othewise this could lead to pop gaming like EA is use to make...(aka games you get tired after 1 month of playing...)

rockutd
rockutd

Yea i dun really care as they make great games.U cant really dominate if ur creating crappy remakes every yr.U know who i am talking about. *cough*

BringTheBlood
BringTheBlood

Nothing is going to change for the companies for the games they make. Lets not forget that we arent talking about EA here, the a**holes that they are. This is quiet merger, no real hostility on either part. If anything i think itll be good for both companies.

mbouchey
mbouchey

I'm not sure what people here know about economics, but this is likely not going to change the games made by either of these companies. Neither of these companies are private, so the buy-out simply means a majority share being held by Vivendi, according to the article 52%. Therefor we can expect a limited capacity for making change by the new executives. So changes are most likely going to occur only on the financial level, not in development of the games themselves. Mostly it means more money going in to fewer hands and a much harder time for their competition. Our video games will not be altered in any significant way.

Taegre
Taegre

I still say ActiVendi would have been a much better merged name than Activision-Blizzard.

exezelot
exezelot

what i really hope right now is that this doesnt change Blizzard. They and Valve are my 2 favorite Devs and i hope that Blizzard will stay the same.

magicalclick
magicalclick

Of course it will be fine for them because Blizzard is part of Vivindi, and Vivindi is French. EU is always hypocritical about anti-trust and they always looking for cash cow to milk.

gnutux
gnutux

I still not sure about them being able to completely pull EA under the water because EA does have a larger portfolio than AB.

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

Activsion and Blizzard? hmm......when the next generation of consoles come out and they make a console, they may beat Sony, Microsoft, even Nintendo maybe.

TheTrueMarik
TheTrueMarik

go Activision BLizzard! EA doesnt stand a chance!

LordSpleach
LordSpleach

Hopefully they won't go to the dark side like EA.

thomasin500
thomasin500

ya, its lots of money, but really how do you buy a company that has nevcer made a game that is less than perfect. games that will guarenteed to sell millions and millions of dolars in mere months. starcraft in korea is like our football. they have a television channel (similar to our ESPN) and average shows include soccer, fighting, starcraft tournements... ya.. so truely, how do you buy something that will never fail and is perfect...18.9 billion

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

This to me is potentially worrisome. Blizzard's games are less serious and more cartoonish. Activision is a multi-genre publisher. Maybe a Diablo FPS wouldn't be bad. Maybe. :?

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ichiban30
ichiban30

crazy... thats a lot of money ..

ArionLightseek
ArionLightseek

Hmmm.....will this bode good or evil? Time will tell.

AgentA-Mi6
AgentA-Mi6

ACTI-Blizzard Sounds cool, I can't wait to see that MMORPG with fps elements

Merl57
Merl57

yeah the 1996 telecommunications act probably had something to do with the monopolies in the gaming industry too, just guessing at least in the US

tyzwain
tyzwain

Finally some competition for EA. I REALLY hope Acti-Blizzard go through.

timdabrat
timdabrat

Look out EA. These guys are gonna consume you! Your crappy action games and sports series can't hold out against CoD, GH, and WoW!

dead_god86
dead_god86

I remember reading in some past news updates on this that, yes activision admires what blizzard create, and want it to stay that way, each company is going to stick to their own main games, however they will probably come together when they make others. and technowizz, you can't be serious, blizzard have never rushed any games or expansion, WotLK is already a few months behind on a release than what they hoped for, still with no news on an actual release. they do however rush patches for WoW, and are kinda lazy on the maintenance side of things...Jubei'Thos is rooted

FAcorp
FAcorp

All this means is more crap movie/comic games from the all powerful EA, as well as a sea of new crap sport games that will be all to easy to forget.

mark_unix
mark_unix

about star trek, vivendi has nothing to do with viacom nor CBS. thus they have no access to anything containing the Name Star and Trek.

ShadoweaverCode
ShadoweaverCode

I hope this gives Blizzard more money to make more great games. Out of all the development studios, Blizzard is by far my favorite. Maybe we'll get lucky and see a reincarnation of Lost Vikings!!

Damnation_6
Damnation_6

For the people that worry about the quallity of Blizzard games after this merger. If you read some interviews with some big chief from Activion you would see they see the Quallity Blizzard brings forth is someting Activion admires greatly and is one of the reasons to Merge in the first place. So thats a good thing. And well I know Activion has their share of bad games but most companies have. Ubisoft, Konami, THQ....you name uhm they all made a few crap titles. Altho EA is still the lord and master of bringing forth crap. Which brings me to Ubersj. Mr. Uberj you do realise that all the big publishers publish movie games, and hell most of uhm bad one. Ubisoft, THQ,Activision, EA....they all make LOTS of movie based videogames.

Cobra5
Cobra5

I think even if any new, money-grubbing buisness types got the ability to control blizzard's release schedules out of this deal, even they'd be smart enough to know that leaving Blizzard to itself would be the best course of action. Its obviously Blizzard knows what its doing. They are given all the time they need on all their projects and just look at how much money they make... And who knows, maybe this will give blizzard the teams they need to make Starcraft: Ghost not suck...

gww101
gww101

This should be good. Best action game producer crossed with the best strategy.

04JETTA
04JETTA

the world really is changing

JimmyJimJim
JimmyJimJim

You sound really dumb Technowzie blizzard never rushes any games INCLUDING EXPANSIONS. Anybody who's even done a little research on blizzard knows this.

kazuma334
kazuma334

To Klugenbeel: As the WoW forums put it, wall of text hits you for 90999938 (crushing blow). Oh yeah, I've always liked Activision and I'm a pretty big fan of Vivendi as well, in my opinion they don't tend to suck up smaller companies and then push out crappy games like EA does.

Josepiphus
Josepiphus

I have too many fantastic games I'm play right now to waste time caring about this.

markgowii
markgowii

World of Tony Hawk, anyone? @enix: Warcraft III is still getting updates? I haven't played online in AGES. I've been too obsessed with my Wii. The latest patch I have is the one that enables play without CD. Why couldn't I get that when I borrowed it from a friend, before I bought my own copy. Cheap-ass, I know.

technowiz999
technowiz999

Rofl let the EA haters rejoice. I don't like EA myself, but please learn what to complain about if your going to. To the people complaining about monopolies just look at all that Vivendi owns. They are a company that is ridiculously bigger than EA, this is only their games division. To those complaining about rushed games, neither company rushes games, only expansions. Both companies take forever with the first game in a series and then pump out the expansions like no other. EA is especially known for this but Blizzard is also a huge culprit of it too. Oh and klugenbeel seriously dude get a life, you post like a dozen long comments ripping on people (even if youre right) and you write all these ridiculously long blogs. All that and you only own 40 games.

enix165
enix165

Activision and Blizzard uniting? NOOO! I got a feeling this means no more Warcraft 3 updates for me...

leey2k1987
leey2k1987

To the people upset by this, would you prefer 'Vivendi EA' (or if EA had the majority in shares just 'EA'). Merger's are unavoidable for business's, EA's attempt hostile takeover of Take-Two is a prime example of what to avoid, even if Take-Two manage to withstand EA they will find themselves in the same situation in a few more years, hopefully they will merge with someone else. Personally I'd rather see 'Acti-Blizzard Take2'. It was a sad day when Bioware were bought out, soon likely to be releasing 'Mass Party Effect 2008'. Normally I'm against console companies (Sony etc) buying out games companies like Take-Two because as many consoles as possible deserve them. however Bioware seemed to only make games for Xbox and PC so it seemed to make sense they'd be bought by Microsoft, ohwell whats done is done.

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

Is it me, or does anyone else seem to think Ubersj must work for EA? This guy says how Activision is making crap Guitar hero games...dude...GH3 has had the best sound track of all the GHs, and theres not much in the way of game play to change, and it doesn't maytter, everyone always has fun playing the with the same Guitar and using the same buttons and same mechanics, what people pay to get more of is the music in Guitar Hero, DUH DUDE! The record industry had to find a way to get people to buy music again. Thanks to originally Harmonix, the record industry found their answer and people LOVE Guitar Hero. You know what a lot of people hate, and EA did....buy up the rights to the NFL and make crappy Madden games, and whereas in the original press release, EA said they would be able to make better NFL games, HAS LIED. Hands down since the 2005 series of NFL games, MAddens have been rated worse in 06, 07, and 08 versions, which is AFTER they got the NFL deal. Prior when EA had Take 2 competing in the NFL against the, EA was making Maddens that were rated better and competed better against Take 2. So EA saying they would make better games, well their Track record says differently. Ubersj, why not admit EA sucks, or do they pay your bills and put your kids through college? Because thats they only way I can see a gamer actially stand up and defend EA.

revamparts
revamparts

It's not a big deal. The game development market is looking a lot like the car development market lately though, there are about the same amount of competitors of similar size.

okassar
okassar

Activision and Vivendi merging,that's great.They would definitely make good games as they're both good on their own.Awesome.And no...Activision is not like EA,hellz no.

Ubersj
Ubersj

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

NWA_31
NWA_31

If there's anyone that should be stopped here, it's EA.

Ninjamonkey25
Ninjamonkey25

acti and vivinti i dont know about but i just cant wait till acti and blizzard merge they could make some great games