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FTC ‘likely’ to file antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Updated Dec 28th, 2022 9:55AM EST
Xbox acquires Activision Blizzard
Image: Microsoft

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Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard could be heading to court.

As reported by Politico, the United States Federal Trade Commission is “likely” to file an antitrust lawsuit in order to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The company, which announced the $69 billion purchase of the gaming behemoth earlier this year, could be facing a court battle to get the acquisition to go through, according to three people familiar with the matter.

According to the report, those at the agency have concerns about Microsoft’s argument justifying its case to acquire the company. While a lawsuit is not certain, a number of people said that it is probable.

A lawsuit challenging the deal is not guaranteed, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote out a complaint or meet with lawyers for the companies, two of the people said. However, the FTC staff reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments, those people said.

If a lawsuit does materialize, it could come as soon as next month according to the people familiar with the investigation.

The investigation remains ongoing, but much of the heavy lifting is completed, including depositions of Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Activision head Bobby Kotick, the people with knowledge of the investigation said. If the agency does move ahead with a case, it could come as soon as next month, said the people, all of whom were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential matter.

Microsoft originally announced its intention to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion back in January. If it is successful, franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch will be owned by the company.

Microsoft Gaming boss Phil Spencer says that the primary motivation for the company purchasing Activision Blizzard is actually to acquire King Games, the Candy Crush developer. The Xbox boss said that acquiring the studio will help the company make inroads with mobile gaming. Call of Duty is just a bonus, apparently.

Update on December 1, 2022: A Microsoft spokesperson has provided the following statement: “As we have said before, we are prepared to address the concerns of regulators, including the FTC, and Sony to ensure the deal closes with confidence. We’ll still trail Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal closes, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive.”

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.

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