The Federal Trade Commission, also known as the FTC, has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop Microsoft from acquiring the enormous video game publisher Activision Blizzard.
The $69 billion dollar deal between Microsoft and Activision has stirred up a massive amount of unwanted attention for Microsoft, who has stated that they do not believe acquiring this major publisher would give them an unfair advantage in the gaming industry, nor would it harm any workers in the process. Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition says
"Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets."
The FTC believes that not only is this acquisition harmful to the gaming industry due to Microsoft withholding content from its gaming rivals but that this deal going through could harm consumers as well. Why is this? Simply put, if Microsoft takes over Activision Blizzard, it will be able to change how the games created by Acti-Blizz function on competitors' consoles, change the terms and timing of the content or keep the content away from competitors entirely. This would be detrimental to those who have already invested in these games or services, as well as those who may want to invest but will no longer have access to the content due to Microsoft's actions. Part of this concern is that unlike Minecraft, which Microsoft has made available on a number of platforms, some Zenimax titles like Starfield and Redfall are set to be Xbox console exclusives.
Microsoft has stated that they offered Sony a 10-year deal for the Call of Duty franchise if the acquisition goes through, but has also since formed a deal with Nintendo with the same parameters. These deals appear to be part of Microsoft taking steps to proactively alleviate regulators' concerns about the franchise and prove that the acquisition will "not be harmful to consumers or the industry".
On the other side of the coin, Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, had a message to his employees after this news came to light, where he states,
"This sounds alarming, so I want to reinforce my confidence that this deal will close. We believe these arguments will win despite a regulatory environment focused on ideology and misconceptions about the tech industry"
The commission voted on a party-line vote today, Thursday, December 8, 2022, with the outcome being 3-1. Three being in favor, one opposed. This is a developing story, so not a lot of information about the suit is currently available, but we will continue to update as time goes on and more is uncovered.