Microsoft’s chances of completing its $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard look a little slimmer this week. Citing three sources familiar with the matter, Politico reports that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is “likely” to try to block the deal with an antitrust lawsuit.
The news comes as the deal is also under scrutiny from UK and European Union regulators. Governments around the world want to rein in the power of big tech companies, and Microsoft’s gaming power move presents them with an important goal. FTC Chair Lina Khan has been outspoken against potential tech monopolies.
Politico’s sources say the decision has yet to be made, but that “FTC staff reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments.”
Meanwhile, the war of words between Sony and Microsoft over the deal took an absurd turn on Wednesday when Britain’s regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, released conflicting statements the two companies had made to its investigators in october. Sony is pleading with regulators to block the deal, saying Microsoft controlling Activision Blizzard, and in particular the Call of Duty franchise, will kill competition in the games market.
Both companies have been placed in the unusual position of being motivated to claim that their opponents are far more successful than they are, and have bent over backwards to portray themselves as the scrappy underdogs.
“The suggestion that incumbent market leader Sony, with clear and enduring market power, could be foreclosed by the smallest of the console’s three competitors, Xbox, following the loss of access to a title, is not credible,” Microsoft protested. (He also strenuously denied he would do such a thing in the first place; Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer said Call of Duty would stay on PlayStation “as long as there’s a PlayStation to ship,” while the company told The New York Times had given Sony 10 more years of Call of Duty games.)
Microsoft also generously claimed that its own exclusive games were rubbish compared to Sony’s. “Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are of higher quality,” he said, citing “iconic first-party franchises” like God of War and Uncharted. PlayStation had “nearly five times more” exclusive titles than Xbox.
Sony’s response has been to denigrate its own subscription service. “Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly,”
Sony also took pot shots at EA’s Battlefield series in passing, as it argued that Call of Duty is too popular in its field to compete, if Microsoft made it exclusive. “Even assuming SIE had the capability and resources to develop a franchise similar to Call of Duty,” Sony said, “it would take many, many years and billions of dollars to create a challenger for Call of Duty – and EA’s Battlefield example shows that such efforts would more than likely be wasted. Shots fired!
Microsoft aims to complete its acquisition of Activision Blizzard at some point before mid-2023.
. fusion Microsoft Activision Blizzard likely make subject dun lawsuit FTC according to report