Today the FTC paused its administrative proceeding against the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft.
The order published today by the regulator follows a joint motion by Microsoft and Activision Blizzard demanding for the case to be withdrawn for adjudication in order to give the FTC time to consider its options and possibly drop the case completely.
The parties stressed in their motion that both a district court and a court of appeals denied the emergency injunctions requested by the FTC, finding its case against the merger wanting. On top of that, they argued that the 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation platforms further undermines the regulator's position.
According to the order, the FTC's counsel has not registered any objection to the motion, triggering the withdrawal of the case from adjudication, staying all further proceedings, at least for now.
On July 18, 2023, counsel for Respondents in this proceeding filed a Motion to Withdraw Proceeding from Adjudication. Complaint Counsel has not registered any objection to Respondent’s Motion.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to Rule 3.26(c) of the Commission Rules of Practice, 16 C.F.R. § 3.26(c) (2022), that this matter in its entirety be and it hereby is withdrawn from adjudication, and that all proceedings before the Administrative Law Judge be and they hereby are stayed.
With the FTC hitting pause on its administrative proceeding, it can now consider its options, including continuing the litigation in front of an administrative law judge, sitting at the negotiating table with the parties, or dropping the case and moving on.
Yesterday, Microsoft and Activision announced that they have extended the deadline for the merger, while the plaintiffs of the so-called "Gamers' lawsuit" saw their plea for an emergency injunction denied by the Supreme Court yesterday.
In the UK, the CMA is now taking a much more diplomatic stance following its denial as Microsoft is presenting an amended version of the deal that should address the regulator's concern.
Elsewhere, most regulators have ruled in favor of the acquisition, including recent decisions by the European Union, China, South Korea, South Africa, and Turkey, with a total of 40 countries clearing the acquisition.