Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard has another hurdle: the Federal Trade Commission in the United States
In a press release, the FTC announced that it is officially suing to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The agency argues that such an acquisition would allow the company to limit access to games such as Call of Duty to its own consoles, furthering what it sees as anti-competitive behavior from the technology giant.
Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement that the agency is trying to stop Microsoft from trying to “harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”
“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals. 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 agency argues that, if Microsoft is allowed to acquire Activision Blizzard, it will manipulate game prices, degrade game quality on competing consoles, and withhold content from non-Microsoft products.
With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers.
Microsoft has already pushed back before today’s announcement, announcing a ten-year deal with Nintendo over Call of Duty. It has extended the same offer to Sony, but that deal has not gone through. While Call of Duty gets the headline, even from the FTC, Microsoft Gaming boss Phil Spencer has already said that the real acquisition it is after is King Games, a move that would boost the company’s capabilities in mobile gaming.