FTC Mulls Filing A Lawsuit To Block Microsoft's $69B Activision Blizzard Deal, But Will It?

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It seems like regulators are starting to push more thorns into Microsoft's sides lately. The United States' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is probably going to take a gander at this $69 Billion acquisition. Tacking on to the the headache Microsoft is already experiencing thanks to the EU Commission investigation and the UK's Competition's Market Authority investigation.

Regulators are concerned about the potential of the tech giant forming a monopoly, though Phil Spencer, Xbox CEO, says the majority of the concern for Microsoft falls into the mobile market. Microsoft mockingly contested Sony's arguments against the merger saying that even without mega-hit series Call of Duty, Sony should be able to stand on its own. Ultimately, Microsoft says it is willing to keep releasing for the rival platform anyway, arguing that Sony's arguments were "self-serving."

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A selection of games published by King.com Limited

Microsoft arguments to other regulatory committees has made FTC staffers "skeptical" according to Politico, as there appears to be a lot of focus on titles like Call of Duty and concerns about exclusivity. However, the UK's investigation revolves around emerging markets such as online game streaming services, like Amazon's Luna or Google's now-defunct Stadia. The concern is that Microsoft is in a prime position to seize streaming market control with its pre-existing clout within the cloud industry.

The FTC's angle, however, is a bit more broad. The government office is worried that Microsoft gaining control over Activision-Blizzard would give the company an unfair advantage in the video game market as a whole. Xbox is currently number three in the console market, trailing Sony with Nintendo on the top, but Microsoft also has market dominance in PC gaming. The concern of overall gaming market dominance is not unfounded. Bethesda, now owned by Microsoft, announced that its upcoming space epic, Starfield, is going to be on Xbox and PC only.

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Screen capture from Call of Duty Warzone 2.0

We can also add in that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) is the fastest selling Call of Duty title of all time. Blizzard has control over some of the most well known titles in gaming, such as Diablo, Overwatch, Starcraft, and Warcraft. Activision-Blizzard also owns King.com Limited, the mobile game publisher behind Candy Crush. It is not a huge leap to see how this could all cause some market dominance across the board. So the current speculation is that if the FTC files something, it will likely be on the grounds of antitrust.