Microsoft Fires Back Hard At FTC Lawsuit To Block Its Activision Deal 

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This Activision-Blizzard-King sale to Microsoft has been contentious, to say the least. Regulators from the UK and the EU have piped up on the issue, a group of individual gamers are suing to block the purchase, and even the United States Federal Trade Commission is stepping in to nix the merger. Microsoft has now responded to this most recent challenge to its ambitions in the same manner that it has before: by claiming that it's just a little guy in the market.

The FTC's lawsuit alleges that the purchase of Activision-Blizzard-King by Microsoft would harm competition in the market and lead to less choice for gamers. Microsoft's rebuttal is primarily to point out that it's not only a fairly distant third-place player in the console market behind second-place Sony and market leader Nintendo, but also that it has essentially no presence in the mobile market.

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Source: Microsoft (click to enlarge)

The document says that Microsoft's ATVI purchase is intended to "meet the billions of gamers ... on mobile devices" and to "learn how to make games that appeal to and engage them." It's an interesting tack—we're buying one of the world's largest game publishers, known for its AAA properties, to improve our mobile game catalog—especially in light of the fact that, as Microsoft points out itself, Activision-Blizzard-King only controls some 4% of the global mobile gaming market (by revenues).

Microsoft's filing also mentions that it actually expects the deal to make Activision's games "more broadly available" by expanding to additional platforms, "like Nintendo." It does make a certain sort of sense that Microsoft's technical expertise could help Activision bring its properties to more platforms, but to see it stated as a goal by Microsoft is pretty curious.

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Bethesda's Starfield is likely to be a mega-hit on its release early next year.

The biggest property in question and the focus of much of the discourse has been, of course, Activision's Call of Duty franchise. The mega-hit military game series sells even more copies on Sony's platforms than Microsoft's own, so it's no surprise that team Green promised to continue publishing the games there in perpetuity.

Microsoft isn't exactly a small indie publisher, though. The biggest properties it owns these days were acquired as part of its Zenimax purchase, and the hotly-anticipated titles Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI will be exclusive to Xbox and Windows PCs, as previously-announced.

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A Starfield Cityscape

The Verge received statements from Activision CEO Bobby Kotick as well as Microsoft president Brad Smith that essentially both say the same thing: they see no reason to block the purchase, and they're confident that the purchase will go through in the end. You can read those statements, as well as the full text of Microsoft's rebuttal to the FTC, over at its site.