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Federal Trade Commission suing to block Activision Blizzard acquisition
Microsoft hits a big roadblock in its pursuit of more gaming influence
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Microsoft goes to court
🛑 FTC is suing to stop the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard
🧑⚖️ A trial also began today that may block Meta from acquiring Within
🪖 Microsoft says it won’t take Call of Duty away
💰 At a nice $69 billion, would be the largest gaming acquisition in history
Microsoft has run into an FTC-sized snag in its $69 billion bid to buy Activision Blizzard – the regulatory body just voted to file suit to drag the deal into the harsh light of the American judicial system.
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The move was expected. In November, it was rumored that the FTC would be seeking legal action to stop the takeover, which it worried would tip competition between Microsoft and Sony to Microsoft’s favor – something Xbox Gaming boss Phil Spencer denies. Activision Blizzard similarly claims the merger doesn’t qualify as anticompetitive.
This is the biggest step the FTC has taken to quash tech monopolizing since the commission chair was taken over by tech critic Lina Khan, according to The Washington Post’s reporting. And it’s not the only antitrust action the FTC is currently engaged in, as a San Jose trial to settle a similar suit by the organization to block the sale of VR company Within to Meta.
Microsoft has insisted that it would not take Call of Duty away from PlayStation after the acquisition, and that may well be true – the company has promised to bring the series to Nintendo platforms – but the FTC doesn’t buy that will be true of every game Activision makes. It says Microsoft could hold key games back from competing platforms, pointing out the exclusivity of ZeniMax titles after it acquired the developer in 2021.
One could argue a bigger threat to Sony’s dominance is the fact that, over two years down the road, many of us continue to hunger for the occasional PS5 restock.
Microsoft is no stranger to antitrust action – a high-profile investigation lead to a series of court cases through the early 2000s that nearly resulted in the breakup of Microsoft, but ultimately ended with a settlement in late 2002.
If the merger is allowed to proceed, it would be, by far, the largest acquisition in gaming history, handily surpassing the $12.7 billion purchase of Zynga by Take-Two Interactive in May 2022. Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax for $7.5 billion is currently the third biggest.