Microsoft Responds to the Lawsuit Filed by FTC, Claims the Deal Won’t Tilt the Balance

Microsoft has responded to the complaint made by the US Federal Trade Commission to prevent the  acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In the 37-page document, Microsoft makes its case for why the $68.7 billion deal should go through. It also justifies its purchase of ZeniMax, the owner of Bethesda, while acknowledging that it intends to make three upcoming games from the studio Xbox and PC-exclusives.

While the titles of those games aren’t disclosed, Microsoft has essentially said that The Elder Scrolls VI will only be accessible on its platforms and that Starfield will be a one-platform-only title. In its brief, Microsoft responds to both the FTC’s broad concerns and some of its more specific points. In an effort to portray itself as a relatively weak participant in the gaming industry in comparison to its rivals, it also features a lot of the self-deprecation for which Microsoft has recently been known.

Graphical representation of Xbox shares compared to competitors | Image: Microsoft

In its response to the FTC, Microsoft attempts to minimize the significance of Xbox, referring to it as the “third-place manufacturer of gaming consoles” after Sony and Nintendo and one of many publishers of well-known video games with “next to no presence in mobile gaming,” where it is attempting to gain ground. 

The acquisition of a single game by the third-place console manufacturer cannot upend a highly competitive industry.

That is particularly so when the manufacturer has made clear it will not withhold the game. The fact that Xbox’s dominant competitor has thus far refused to accept Xbox’s proposal does not justify blocking a transaction that will benefit consumers.” 

-Microsoft 

The FTC has not provided proof that Microsoft is attempting to remove the exclusive titles from PlayStation, according to Microsoft, despite the investigation spanning almost a year and the review of millions of Activision Blizzard and Microsoft documents. Microsoft’s business will benefit from making sure the games are broadly accessible, the firm said. 

According to the FTC’s complaint, Microsoft had guaranteed the European Commission that it wouldn’t have any incentive to stop customers from playing games from ZeniMax, a game publisher it purchased in 2021, on consoles other than the Xbox, but after the European Commission approved the ZeniMax acquisition, the firm announced that it would be making some ZeniMax titles exclusive. Microsoft replied to the allegation by saying: 

The European Commission agrees it was not misled, stating publicly the day after the complaint that Microsoft did not make any ‘commitments’ to the European Commission nor did the European Commission rely on any statements made by Microsoft about the future distribution strategy concerning ZeniMax’s games.”  

Microsoft gave the impression that it will aggressively defend its position in court with a team under the direction of renowned corporate lawyer Beth Wilkinson, while simultaneously keeping the door open for a settlement:

Even with confidence in our case, we remain committed to creative solutions with regulators that will protect competition, consumers, and workers in the tech sector.

As we’ve learned from our lawsuits in the past, the door never closes on the opportunity to find an agreement that can benefit everyone.”

-Brad Smith (President of Microsoft) 

Depending on how European and British authorities decide to handle the merger next year, the date and course of the lawsuit may alter. Microsoft may attempt to speed up the legal procedure in the United States if it receives clearance in Europe. This week, a group of individual video game gamers filed a lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco seeking to halt the merger on the basis of antitrust laws, posing a new threat to the merger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Muhammad Zuhair


Passionate about technology and gaming content, Zuhair focuses on analysing information and then presenting it to the audience.
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