FTC files lawsuit to block Microsoft's Activision acquisition

Windows logo on white background with court hammer and activision logo
Credit: Microsoft / Activision

Since Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision, the hurdles preventing the two parties from closing the deal continue to emerge, despite the company behind Xbox signing a ten-year deal with Nintendo.

While Microsoft claims to focus on expanding its mobile offerings, the biggest stumbling block surrounding the deal is the Call of Duty franchise. Despite the popular shooter title heading to Nintendo, there are no signs of Sony budging from its current position.

With some believing the deal could do more harm to the gaming industry than good, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit with the aim of blocking the deal.

FTC blocks Microsoft buying Activision

A Washington Post report published on December 8 reveals the FTC’s lawsuit and the reasoning behind its decision. The commission claims the deal would harm the market, as Microsoft would have the ability to suppress any new competition that emerges.

According to the FTC, Microsoft’s previous acquisition of Bethesda has played a role in its decision to intervene. It says the company promised regulators that Bethesda games would remain available across multiple platforms but eventually reversed its decision, resulting in them becoming platform exclusives.

In a bid to ease any concerns from industry regulators, Microsoft offered Sony a ten-year deal that would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation platforms for the next decade. However, it appears that this wasn’t enough to stop the FTC.

Following the FTC’s lawsuit, Microsoft vice president Brad Smith issued a statement saying the company has “complete confidence” in its case against the commission.

The length of court proceedings has a chance of scuppering the deal once and for all. The document says the date of the hearing is in August 2023, two months after the deadline for Activision and Microsoft to complete the acquisition. This is definitely not the last we’ve heard in this particular saga.

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