Microsoft wins FTC battle to acquire Activision Blizzard

A federal judge on Tuesday gave Microsoft the green light to move forward with its acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard. The company still faces an antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission, but U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled against the regulator’s request for a temporary injunction. 

Throughout the intense five-day hearing, the FTC argued that the proposed merger would allow Microsoft to make Activision games like “Candy Crush,” “World of Warcraft” and “Call of Duty” exclusive to Xbox, effectively blocking out its competitors at Sony, the creators of the PlayStation, and Nintendo. The hearing ended up revealing behind-the-scenes information about the typically tight-lipped industry. The judge ultimately disagreed with the FTC’s assertion that the merger would harm consumers or limit competition in the video game industry. “To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content,” she wrote in her opinion. 

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The companies are still trying to secure merger approval in the U.K. after the Competition and Markets Authority blocked the deal in April over concerns Microsoft would monopolize the cloud gaming market. After the FTC decision, the CMA and Microsoft agreed to pause the legal battle to determine ways to modify the deal to address the regulator’s concerns. The pause needs to be approved, “but it increasingly looks like all parties are willing to secure a remedy in the U.K.,” per The Verge.

Microsoft has until July 18 to finish the $69-billion deal, or it risks paying fees or renegotiating terms with Activision. If the company can pass all the barriers, it will boost the industry and “mark a victory for its efforts to charm agencies that have become more stringent about how they review big tech deals,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

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