Activision Blizzard purchase: US agency FTC is suing Microsoft

Microsoft plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. Purchase price: in excess of $68 billion (Images: Microsoft Inc.)

After the UK and EU, Microsoft is now also threatened with trouble in its home market: the FTC wants to legally prevent the takeover of Activision Blizzard.

“Protecting America’s Consumers” – The Federal Trade Commission has taken on the protection of American consumers, in short: FTC, written on the flags. Because the US antitrust authorities see competition in the video game market at risk, the FTC has now filed a lawsuit against Microsoft.

The goal: the proposed acquisition of Activision-Blizzard (Call of Duty, Diablo, candy Crush Saga) to block. With a volume of 69 billion dollars, it is by far the largest transaction in the video games segment — and the largest investment in Microsoft history.

The FTC’s argument: The purchase would give the Xbox manufacturer control over some of the most commercially important video game brands – especially with regard to subscription models and the cloud business, i.e. streaming offers. As a result, Microsoft competitors would have less or no access to Activision Blizzard content.

This is followed by the US competition watchdog in the basics the reasoning of PlayStation manufacturer Sony Interactive.

The FTC justifies its blocking stance with Microsoft’s previous behavior: Contrary to previous commitments to EU authorities, the company has Acquisition of Zenimax / Bethesda very well kept products away from competing consoles – as examples Starfield and red case called, which will appear exclusively for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in 2023 (Background / Analysis).

FTC Director Holly Vedova: “Microsoft has already proven they can keep content separate from their gaming rivals. With today’s lawsuit, we will seek to prevent Microsoft from controlling a leading independent development studio because it would harm competition in several fast-growing market segments.”

So far, Activision Blizzard have offered the products on as many platforms as possible: This strategy could change once the Microsoft deal is approved. With blockbuster brands like Call of Duty Microsoft has both the means and the motivation to adjust pricing at the expense of the competition, for example, or to reduce the game quality on the systems of the competition. Content may not take place at all or with a delay or to a lesser extent on other consoles.

Microsoft has sharply denied these allegations on several occasions. Just a few days ago, the US group made another attempt to convince the skeptics in the authorities: this is how you become the shooter brand Call of Duty in the next ten years also for Nintendo systems and on the PC download platform Steam to offer.

After the FTC announcement, Microsoft is more determined than ever to fight the takeover through legal channels. How the Europeans position themselves will also play a role here: the antitrust watchdogs in the EU and in the UK want to announced shortly after the turn of the yearwhether – and if so: under what conditions – they agree to the Activision Blizzard purchase.

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