After a few days that have left gamers waiting with bated breath for a ruling, a federal court has ruled against the preliminary injunction demanded by the FTC in its attempt to stop Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The decision came following an intense hearing in which Microsoft, Activision, and the regulator argued on the definition of the market and on whether the deal would bring a lessening of competition or effectively enhance it. If you're interested in reading more about their arguments, you can enjoy our ou can read our summaries of the first day, second day, third day, and fourth day (including Bobby Kotick and Satya Nadella's testimonies).
According to the documents of the ruling (shared by FOSSpatents Bog founder Florian Mueller) Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley concluded that the FTC "has not shown that it is likely to succeed in its assertion the combined firm will probably pull Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation, or this ownership of this Activision content will substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets."
The ruling also mentions that "the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content" as a consequence of the deal.
Another interesting part of the decision is that the Temporary Restricting Order obtained by Activision to keep the deal from closing before the ruling was made will actually dissolve at 11:59 pm on July 14 unless the FTC obtains a stay pending appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The initial wording of the TRO required five business days from the ruling for it to expire, but that would have been beyond the deadline for the closure of the acquisition on July 18.
As things stand now, Microsoft could close the deal as soon as the TRO expires, but it remains to be seen whether the FTC will appeal or not and whether the house of Xbox really intends to close the deal before the ruling by the British CAT tribunal on the appeal against the local regulator CMA.
Microsoft has issued a statement signed by vice chair and president Brad Smith commenting on the ruling, thanking the court for the "quick and thorough decision."
We're grateful to the Court in San Francisco for this quick and thorough decision and hope other jurisdictions will continue working towards a timely resolution. As we've demonstrated consistently throughout this process, we are committed to working creatively and collaboratively to address regulatory concerns.
Elsewhere, most regulators have ruled in favor of the deal, including the recent decisions by the European Union, China, South Korea, and South Africa, with a total of 39 countries clearing the acquisition. New Zealand expressed doubts about the deal and Canada expressed its disapproval with a letter, but neither has formally moved to block the acquisition yet.