FTC Allowed to Investigate Sony & Ubisoft Deals in Microsoft & Activision Merger Case With a Caveat

The FTC's motion to reopen the discovery phase in the case of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard to investigate the deals with Sony and Ubisoft has been granted in part, with a relevant caveat.

Published: October 29, 2023 6:41 PM /


Microsoft and FTC argue over Sony and Ubisoft, portayed as Edgeworth and Phoenix Writht from Ace Attorney

While the $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft has finally been closed, the legal battle between Microsoft and the FTC to keep it closed is still ongoing.

A couple of weeks ago, the regulator's complaint counsel asked the administrative judge for permission to reopen discovery on the deals Microsoft has signed with Sony and Ubisoft, the latter of which paved the way to the British CMA's approval and ultimately to the consummation of the merger. 

The administrative judge has recently granted that request, but only in part. 

Call of Duty: Mdern Warfare 3 screenshot
The appearance of Call of Duty on different platforms and services is one of the focal points of the case.

The judge mentions that good cause exists to reopen the investigation, but adds that the FTC's counsel request for the ability to demand 20 documents and 15 interrogatories of the parties is "disproportionately large," even more so when compared to the 39 documents and 25 interrogatories requested in the whole five months of the discovery phase. 

As such, the FTC's complaint counsel is allowed to request only 6 documents from Microsoft and 6 from Activision, plus 6 interrogatories from Microsoft and 3 from Activision, on top of one corporate deposition from each.

The judge also ordered that any document or testimony sought by the FTC can't be duplicative or cumulative of evidence previously provided. The deadline for this new fact discovery phase is eight weeks from the date of the order.

Among other things, the FTC is arguing that a (redacted) clause under the current pricing terms of the deal between Ubisoft and Microsoft raises doubt about whether it could ever be profitable for the French publisher to license these games to streaming service providers.

Ubisoft certainly appeared to be pumped about these potential profits during its latest financial announcement.

With the merger closed, the FTC has to go through an administrative Judge in order to try and obtain a divestiture that could bring everything back to square one, but the legal requirements for something so drastic are very high. It'll take a long while before we see the actual end of this saga. 

In the meanwhile, Microsoft is already integrating Activision to work with its studios including relevant leadership changes

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