Well, here’s an amazing pre-Thanksgiving treat. according PoliticsIt’s “likely” the FTC will try to block Microsoft’s bid to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The agency could file an antitrust complaint as early as next month. If the FTC takes such a step, it would be a major obstacle to a deal.
The report says the four FTC commissioners have yet to vote on whether to file a lawsuit. The agency has yet to meet with attorneys from Microsoft or Activision Blizzard about this possibility. but, Politics It says FTC staff questioned some of Microsoft’s and Activision’s claims.
The FTC is reportedly primarily concerned with whether the merger would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the video game industry. As it stands, Xbox is the third-largest player in the games market after PlayStation and Tencent.
Microsoft and Activision tried to downplay the deal (which, again, is worth $68.7 billion). Sony claimed that if Microsoft kept games like Call of Duty away from PlayStation, Sony would be at a huge disadvantage.
Sony could potentially lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year if Microsoft pulls Call of Duty from PlayStation. However, Microsoft said it offered Sony a deal earlier this month to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years.
Microsoft also said the deal with Activision was to help it become a mobile gamer (through Candy Crush Saga) the improvement of PC or console hardware offers. He wants to put Activision Blizzard titles on Game Pass the same way.
Microsoft and Sony have been mudslinging each other in regulatory filings in several countries for the past few months. Both chose facts to back up their arguments. For example, Microsoft says Call of Duty isn’t a must-have game for Sony and putting it on Game Pass wouldn’t hurt PlayStation.
Activision disputed claims that the deal would also have a negative impact on competition. “Any suggestion that the deal could result in AVM effects is complete nonsense,” Activision spokesman Joe Christinat said. Politics. “This merger will benefit gamers and the gaming industry in the United States, especially as we face increasingly fierce competition from overseas. »
Last month, one of the Federal Trade Commission’s Republican members resigned, meaning the agency currently has three Democratic and one Republican commissioners. Noah Phillips, who is stepping down as commissioner, has opposed several attempts by Federal Trade Commission Chair Lena Khan to rein in the power of the tech industry. For example, he voted against a lawsuit seeking to block Meta’s purchase of a virtual reality startup called Within Unlimited. In other words, if Khan wants to pursue an antitrust lawsuit against the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal, she’ll likely face less resistance from the other commissioners.
Politics He says the FTC has nearly completed its antitrust investigations, which may have all started in February. The agency has reportedly already heard testimony from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his Activision counterpart Bobby Kotick.
FTC regulators have other concerns about the Microsoft-Activision deal beyond Call of Duty. Investigators are trying to determine how Microsoft might leverage unannounced and future titles to grow its gaming business. Politics Said. Regulators in the UK and Europe are also looking closely at the acquisition, meaning it will be at least the spring before Microsoft and Activision can complete the deal, if that happens.
I’ve said since the announcement that the planned merger is far from done, but any FTC lawsuit could be a slam dunk. Politics He points out that if the FTC files an antitrust complaint by the end of the year or in January, it is unlikely to be resolved before July, which is after the deadline set by Microsoft and Activision to conclude the agreement. . If this is the case, the companies will have to renegotiate their agreement or, failing that, abandon the merger.
Again, there is no guarantee that the FTC will attempt to block the merger. But Politics Reports are generally strong and there is no smoke without fire. We’ll have to wait and see how things unfold in the weeks and months to come.
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