Since Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, the publisher of Call of Duty and Overwatch, for $68.7 billion, it’s been grappling with legislators around the world to gain permission to close that deal.
Recently, the company has been facing scrutiny from the American Federal Trade Commission in court, with the proceedings having revealed some interesting behind-the-scenes information about Microsoft’s relationship with Activision and past acquisition targets, as well as PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan’s thoughts on Starfield’s exclusivity.
Now, following five days of back and forth between the two sides over the deal, the judge presiding over the case has ruled in favour of Microsoft and denied the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction.
How do you feel about this outcome to the recent court battle between Microsoft and the FTC?
In her ruling (thanks The Verge), Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said:
This Court’s responsibility in this case is narrow. It is to decide if, notwithstanding these current circumstances, the merger should be halted—perhaps even terminated—pending resolution of the FTC administrative action. For the reasons explained, the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore DENIED.
Following the release of the decision, several key figures from the Microsoft and Activision side of the case have shared statements on social media about it.
“We're grateful to the court for swiftly deciding in our favor,” tweeted Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, adding: “The evidence showed the Activision Blizzard deal is good for the industry and the FTC’s claims about console switching, multi-game subscription services, and cloud don’t reflect the realities of the gaming market.”
While the decision means that Microsoft and Activision can now close the deal prior to July 18, the date beyond which the two sides would have had to enter proceedings to renegotiate the terms of the deal, there are still some matters of scrutiny left to be resolved.
Most pressing is the decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to block the deal back in April, with both it and Microsoft having just agreed to pause their own legal tussle in order to try and negotiate a compromise regarding the elements of the deal that could affect cloud gaming.
Meanwhile, the FTC will continue to scrutinise the deal on US soil, and has until the end of July 14 to appeal Judge Corley’s decision.
Regardless of what you think of this titanic legal tussle, make sure to check out the rest of our coverage of it, as well as our array of guides to the latest developments in Warzone and Modern Warfare 2, with Season 4 being in progress in the latter.