Microsoft will bring Xbox games to Nvidia’s cloud gaming service

The Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on top of the Activision Blizzard logo shown in this illustration taken on 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 an attempt to convince them that the planned $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard will be good for competition. Microsoft is fighting to prevent the takeover from being blocked.

Microsoft president Brad Smith said at a press conference that its Xbox games will be available on Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service immediately. Smith said that if the Activision deal closes, it will bring all Activision Blizzard titles to GeForce Now.

Nvidia is now included in Microsoft’s pending agreement for regulatory purposes, the two companies said in a joint statement.

“Combining the incredibly rich catalog of Xbox party games with GeForce Now’s high-performance streaming capabilities will make cloud gaming a mainstream offering that appeals to gamers of all levels of interest and experience,” said Jeff Fisher, Nvidia’s senior vice president of GeForce. was quoted as saying. “Through this partnership, several of the world’s most popular titles will now be available from the cloud with just one click, playable by millions of players.”

Microsoft proposed the Activision Blizzard acquisition in January 2022, but since then the buyer has faced pushback from regulators in the US, EU and UK

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 game market.

Activision Blizzard is the company behind the popular game franchise Call of Duty. The European Commission said last year that 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 advantage in the emerging area of ​​cloud gaming. Microsoft has a service called Game Pass where it charges players $9.99 per month to access a library of games. The Activision takeover would add some high-profile titles to Game Pass.

Nvidia’s GeForce Now has over 25 million members, while Microsoft said last year that 25 million people subscribe to Game Pass. Nvidia offers free and paid GeForce Now tiers, although high resolution is only available to those who pay. Members of GeForce Now will be able to stream through the cloud the games they purchase through Microsoft’s app store, along with games listed in the Epic Games and Steam app stores.

In December, Microsoft said it had “entered into a 10-year commitment” to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo once the Activision acquisition closes. The announcement was seen as a move to ease regulators’ antitrust concerns. On Tuesday, Smith tweeted that the two labels have now signed a “binding 10-year legal agreement” to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo gamers 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 Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, Reuters reported, citing a European Commission document seen by the news agency. Sony gaming chief Jim Ryan was also in attendance, Reuters added. Sony, Microsoft’s biggest rival, opposes the Activision takeover.

Sony was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

It is not only European regulators who are concerned about the agreement.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said this month that the takeover raises competition concerns and could lead to higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation. The regulator said it could move to block the deal.

In December, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an antitrust case against Microsoft seeking to block the Activision deal.

Microsoft has argued that the takeover of Activision Blizzard would not harm competition in video games and instead increase competition against major players such as Sony and Chinese giant Tencent.

Microsoft has lagged behind the likes of Sony and Nintendo in the video game industry. Microsoft’s Xbox consoles have lagged behind Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Nintendo’s Switch. Sony and Nintendo’s popularity has come from the large number of successful first-party games. Microsoft is looking to increase its game library with the Activision acquisition.

Google parent Alphabet has also reportedly expressed opposition to Microsoft’s planned transaction. “The European Commission asked for our views in the course of their investigations into this issue. We will continue to cooperate in all processes, when requested, to ensure that all views are considered,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC in an email.

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