Could the Activision-Blizzard merger with Microsoft be in danger? That certainly seems possible after the United States Federal Trade Commission announced it was filing a lawsuit against Microsoft to block the almost $70 billion merger from happening. The FTC alleges that if this deal was approved, it would allow Microsoft to “suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.”
According to Axios, the agency is not seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the deal from closing. As a result, the acquisition is “still likely” to clear regulatory roadblocks in the United States.
While the U.S. is trying to block the merger, it doesn’t sound like other regulatory bodies support this lawsuit. According to Resetera, the EU Commission reportedly disagrees with the FTC’s decision to launch a lawsuit.
In a statement, the EU Commission refuted one of the FTC’s claims that justifies blocking the acquisition. The FTC claims that during Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax Media, Microsoft told the EU Commission it “would not have the incentive to withhold ZeniMax titles from rival consoles.” However, the EU Commission issued a statement clarifying that Microsoft didn’t make this commitment as part of an antitrust review. Furthermore, the commission said it “cleared the Microsoft/ZeniMax transaction unconditionally.”
As explained by Game Rant, this statement “doesn’t actually change anything regarding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard or the FTC’s effort to thwart it.” Microsoft will reportedly be able to use the EU Commission’s statement in court if necessary, but that wouldn’t happen until Summer 2023 at the earliest.
The Profit‘s Take:
The FTC is worried about Game Pass and what COD would mean for Game Pass. It’s interesting that they would focus on that aspect of this deal. This could derail the deal, but it’s still unclear. The most likely reason they’re making a fuss is they’re trying to extract some concessions from Microsoft. My tinfoil hat theory though: somebody at the FTC is a big PlayStation fanboy. They want to make sure their COD games aren’t going anywhere.