US FTC sues Microsoft to block its $69 bn Activision Blizzard acquisition
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued tech giant Microsoft for acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard and its blockbuster game 'Call of Duty' for $69 billion.
The FTC said that the deal, the largest ever in the video gaming industry, would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.
“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said the FTC’s Bureau of Competition director Holly Vedova, referring to the exclusivity of upcoming titles like Starfield and Redfall. “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.”
Microsoft president Brad Smith has issued a response on Twitter, saying the proposed acquisition will “expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers”, and that to address competition concerns, the company “proposed concessions to the FTC” earlier this week. He added: “While we believe in giving peace a chance, we have complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present it in court.”
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has also issued a response. In a statement sent out to company employees, Kotick wrote: “I want to reinforce my confidence that this deal will close. The allegation that this deal is anti-competitive doesn’t align with the facts, and we believe we’ll win this challenge.”
Both Microsoft and Activision have previously stated that they would be ready to fight in court to ensure that the deal goes through.