South Korea has approved Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) says it approved the deal “unconditionally” and says it has “no concerns” about the potential restriction of competition if Blizzard games were made exclusive.
The KFTC stated that the popularity of Activision Blizzard games is quite low specifically in South Korea and therefore their importance for platform owners is not that important in that region.
“The combined market share of games developed and distributed by Microsoft and Blizzard is small, the popularity of Blizzard’s main games in Korea is not as high as abroad, and there are a number of popular game developers that competitors can work with as an alternative, so there “There is no foreclosure option to exclude competing gaming service companies,” the KFTC said in its statement.
“Even in the event of a blockage, the effect of converting consumers of the competition into subscribers to their services is minimal due to the low popularity of Blizzard’s games, and the competitors have a significant market share, so there is no risk of competitive exclusion.”
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The KFTC also noted that it has held discussions with relevant competition authorities in other countries to get their views on the deal, but noted that their decisions may differ as Activision Blizzard’s games are more important in those regions .
“Given that this is a merger of global companies, the KFTC exchanged views with major foreign competition authorities through multiple video conferences and collected opinions from stakeholders, including competitors, to arrive at a final decision based on a multi-layered analysis of the impact of the merger conclusion to enter the domestic market,” it said.
“However, the differing judgments on whether to allow this case are due to the significant differences in the competitive situation in the gaming market in each country and the fact that each country’s competition authorities have focused on the impact on their home markets. “
The proposed acquisition has now received approval from nearly 40 global regulators – earlier this month both the European Commission and China’s competition authority approved the deal, which would see Microsoft owning popular gaming franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
However, the UK and US remain sticking points for Microsoft. In April, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was blocking the $69 billion deal over concerns about its impact on the nascent cloud gaming market.
Microsoft formally appealed the CMA’s decision last week, calling the decision “bad for the UK”.
The US Federal Trade Commission has also sued Microsoft to block the planned takeover over antitrust concerns.