Microsoft’s deal to buy Activision could yet be killed

Microsoft’s deal to buy Activision could yet be killed

Microsoft’s acquisition deal for Activision Blizzard is set to be investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, according to people familiar with the situation. The information was reported by Bloomberg, who noted that the FTC has become more aggressive in its stance on large corporate acquisitions.

Typically, the process would have been reviewed by the Department of Justice, but it’s not uncommon for deals to be investigated by the FTC, either. With the Activision Blizzard deal being Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever, it seems that the agency wants a closer look at how it could harm the industry. Microsoft is planning to spend nearly $70 billion in an all-cash transaction, the largest ever of this type. The purchase would also make Microsoft the third-largest gaming company in the world, trailing Tencent and Sony.

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There’s some fear of market consolidation building in the gaming industry, particularly as Microsoft has been buying up more and more studios. Just over a year ago, the company had acquired ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, for $7.5 billion. That already means many titles will be exclusive to Xbox platforms, including the upcoming launch of Starfield and most likely The Elder Scrolls VI.

Activision Blizzard is one of the world’s largest videogame publishers, with massively popular titles such as the Call of Duty series, as well as World of Warcraft and many others. Naturally, regulatory agencies have some concerns if those titles suddenly stop being available on other consoles. Microsoft’s gaming chief, Phil Spencer, has said that the company will honor “all existing agreements” and that it intends to “keep Call of Duty on PlayStation”, but the carefully-worded tweet leaves some room for interpretation.

It’s also worth noting that the FTC has already tried to block some major acquisitions in the recent past. Most notably, the NVIDIA acquisition of Arm, which was set to cost $40 billion. Regulator pushback has been so hard on that front that NVIDIA is reportedly ready to give up on the purchase.

Microsoft has set a date of June 2023 for the Activision deal to close, so we should hear the FTC’s verdict before then.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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