FTC wants to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

According to a Press Release, the Commission, whose aim is to protect consumers by promoting fair market competition, voted 3-1 to file a formal antitrust complaint. Among other reasons, it cites Microsoft’s record of using previous acquisitions to “prevent competition from rival consoles” and points to the publisher’s purchase of ZeniMax as doing so. for example, state:

“Microsoft has decided to make a number of Bethesda titles including Starfield and Redfall exclusive to Microsoft even though they have assured European antitrust authorities that they have no incentive to keep the games. from rival consoles.”

The FTC adds that Activision is one of the few remaining major third-party publishers to offer some of the best-selling franchises across multiple platforms. It states that if Microsoft’s acquisition is successful, it will have “the means and motives to harm competition”. The FTC lists hypothetical examples including Microsoft reducing the quality of non-Xbox versions of Activision games or services, withholding content from other platforms, and manipulating prices in anti-consumer ways.

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“Microsoft has shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming competitors,” said Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Competition Bureau. “Today, we seek to prevent Microsoft from gaining control of a leading indie game studio and using it to harm competition in many dynamic and fast-growing game markets.”

To date, the acquisition of Activision has been approved by international government trade bodies such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Serbia (with no regulatory concessions). It is still under review because of antitrust concerns by several international governments, most notably the European Commission.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it has entered a 10-year commitment to Nintendo to bring Call of Duty back to its platform. It also said it plans to keep the series on Steam and has repeatedly stated its readiness keep Call of Duty on PlayStation to the foreseeable future. Of course, all of those promises are contingent on whether the deal passes all regulatory checks. Sony has been one of the strongest opponents of the acquisition, arguing that such a merger is uncompetitive and harmful to its brand.


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