The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly “likely” to file an antitrust lawsuit to block a $68.7 billion deal that would see Microsoft acquire Activision Blizzard.
According to Politico, the news comes from “three people with knowledge of the matter” and they emphasize that this lawsuit is “not guaranteed.”
The four FTC commissioners didn’t take the time to dismiss the complaint or even meet with lawyers for Microsoft and Activision, but FTC officials reviewing the deal are “skeptical of the companies’ arguments.”
As for the state of the deal, the “hard work” is done, including testimony from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. This means that a decision on a potential antitrust lawsuit could be made as early as December.
The crux of the matter, according to the FTC, is that some fear the deal will give “Microsoft an unfair boost to the video game market.”
Sony was, of course, one of the deal’s biggest opponents, and where Call of Duty would appear was one of the most sensitive topics. Although Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that Call of Duty will continue to release on PlayStation “for as long as PlayStation delivers,” there are still concerns about what other problems this deal could create.
Sony previously stated that Microsoft was “a tech titan buying irreplaceable content at unstoppable prices ($68.7 billion) to sway competitors to their side.”
Beyond Call of Duty, however, there are question marks as there are concerns about what future blockbusters will have to do to rebalance if they are stuck on one platform.
Google is also reportedly opposed to the deal, stating that Microsoft “deliberately downgraded its Game Pass subscription service when used with the Google Chrome operating system.” The company believes that if the deal goes through, it will “advance more [Microsoft] continue”.
Microsoft disputes many of these claims and claims that even after the deal closes, it will still be in third place.
“We will continue to lag behind Sony and Tencent in the market after the closing of the deal, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive,” said Microsoft spokesman David Cuddy.
Along with the FTC, regulators in Europe and the UK have also launched in-depth investigations, meaning the deal is unlikely to close until spring. Microsoft and Activision must complete the deal by July 2023 or they will have to renegotiate the terms of the deal.
Erwan Lafleriel is the editor-in-chief of IGN France. A video game slave for 40 years, he only occasionally escapes to mourn his defeats on Twitter.