The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard, three people familiar with the matter said.
It is noted that the final decision on the lawsuit has not yet been made. The FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote on the complaint or meet with the companies’ lawyers. But FTC officials, who oversee the deal, are skeptical of the companies’ arguments. While the investigation is still ongoing, most of the ground work has already been done. According to informed sources, the testimony of the executive director of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, and the head of Activision, Bobby Kotyk, have already been received. If the agency proceeds with the case, a lawsuit could be filed as early as next month.
The FTC fears that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the video game market. Sony has been a major opponent of the deal, telling the FTC and other regulators that if Microsoft made popular games like Call of Duty exclusive to its platforms, Sony would be at a huge disadvantage.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority released a statement outlining Sony’s position. The company says the deal will not only hurt its competitiveness, but will also leave consumers with fewer choices for games and developers with fewer choices where to publish their games. At the same time, Microsoft is positioned as “a technical titan that buys irreplaceable content at unbeatable prices.” In turn, Microsoft accuses Sony of self-serving statements aimed at maintaining its leading position in the gaming segment. Microsoft has said it has repeatedly promised to keep Call of Duty available on PlayStation.
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Google is also opposed to the deal, sources familiar with the matter said. The company alleges that Microsoft intentionally made Game Pass subscriptions worse for Google ChromeOS users, and that Activision Blizzard’s ownership will continue to encourage such behavior to promote its own gaming hardware.
Microsoft spokesman David Cuddy said the company is “prepared to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC and Sony, to ensure a confident closing of the deal.”
The European Commission will investigate Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion until March 23