The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeks a preliminary injunction to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The FTC argues that the merger would harm competition in console, subscription, and cloud gaming markets. If completed, the deal would grant Microsoft exclusive access to Activision games, potentially leaving Nintendo and Sony’s PlayStation at a disadvantage. Witnesses, including Matt Booty and Sarah Bond, testified during the hearing. Resolving the US lawsuit is critical, as Microsoft and Activision face antitrust battles worldwide. Microsoft contends the deal benefits gamers and gaming companies, and has offered a decade of Call of Duty game access to rivals.
In federal court, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made its case for a temporary injunction to prevent Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard until the government’s case is heard by an administrative judge.
The FTC argues that the merger could harm competition in various gaming markets, including consoles, subscription services, and cloud gaming. They claim that the combination would grant Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo and Sony’s PlayStation at a disadvantage.
Microsoft countered by stating that it makes sense to offer Activision games on multiple platforms. If an injunction is granted, it could result in a lengthy administrative proceeding that could jeopardize the deal.
Witnesses, including Matt Booty, Microsoft’s head of Xbox Game Studios, Sarah Bond, Microsoft’s corporate VP of gaming ecosystem, and Pete Hines, group senior VP and head of publishing at Microsoft subsidiary Bethesda Softworks, testified during the hearing. Resolving this US lawsuit is a crucial step in finalizing the deal, as Microsoft and Activision have faced antitrust battles worldwide. While the European Union approved the acquisition, British competition authorities blocked it.
“I think you will see that every piece of evidence shows that it only makes sense for Xbox to make these Activision games to as many people on as many platforms as possible,” Microsoft lawyer Beth Wilkinson said in opening arguments, adding that if an injunction is granted, it could result in a three-year administrative proceeding that would kill the deal.
The FTC contends that the deal would provide Microsoft with the ability and incentive to impede Activision’s content in ways that harm competition. Microsoft has offered to sign a legally binding consent decree to provide Call of Duty games to competitors for a decade, emphasizing the benefits the deal would bring to gamers and gaming companies.