The FTC sues to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

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The regulatory agency is stepping in

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing to block Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard. The regulatory agency issued a complaint today, saying the deal would enable Microsoft to “suppress competitors” to Xbox’s console, cloud gaming, and subscription content.

In a press release from the FTC, the agency argues that Starfield and Redfall‘s Xbox console exclusivity runs counter to assurances given to European anti-trust authorities. The FTC also argues that Activision is one of a “only a very small number” of top video game developers in the world that create and publish games for multiple devices.

“With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers,” said the FTC in a statement.

An ongoing battle

Since the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard deal was announced earlier this year, the potential acquisition has been under scrutiny from various regulatory bodies. Microsoft has been trying to offer Call of Duty contracts to PlayStation, and it even brought Nintendo into the mix this week. Sony has claimed that this deal could hurt developers and consumers. All the while, Microsoft has seemed confident the deal will go through.

“We continue to believe that this deal will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers,” said Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith in a statement on the FTC complaint to The Verge. “We have been committed since Day One to addressing competition concerns, including by offering earlier this week proposed concessions to the FTC. While we believed in giving peace a chance, we have complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court.”

Eric Van Allen
Senior News Reporter