Activision’s proposed acquisition by Microsoft isn’t going as smoothly as the businesses probably anticipated. Global regulators are keenly examining the $69 billion takeover.
The US Federal Trade Commission is “likely” to bring an antitrust case to prevent Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, according to a recent Politico report that is reported to be based on accounts of three persons with knowledge of the situation. This is reportedly a part of the FTC’s bigger plan to limit the influence of powerful technological companies.
Before we jump to conclusions, it should be noted that even while the FTC commissioners are reportedly suspicious of Microsoft’s claims, a lawsuit is not a given until they vote on the issue. The FTC’s investigation into the deal is still underway, but it is believed that much of the “hard lifting” has already been completed, so a lawsuit announcement might happen soon, perhaps as early as next month. In reaction to Politico’s story, Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy gave the publication the following reply:
Microsoft is prepared to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure the deal closes with confidence. We’ll still trail Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal closes, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive.”
According to Sony, the CMA learned during its initial investigation that 30–40% of console gaming time in the UK is spent on Activision and Microsoft games. Sony claims that if Microsoft were to gain sole control over Activision’s intellectual property, it would harm consumers, competitors, and independent developers alike.
This transaction has already caused more problems than Microsoft probably anticipated, so it goes without saying that a full-fledged antitrust complaint from a US federal agency would be a serious setback. Of course, for the time being, this is all just gossip, but things don’t good right for Microsoft.