US FTC to investigate Microsoft’s Activision purchase

As much as fans are excited for Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest moves in gaming history, to finally close; it seems they will have to wait a little further after it encounters a major speedbump. 

Earlier this month, a report from Bloomberg announced that the $68.7 billion deal between the two giant companies is not yet a done deal as it will be undergoing antitrust investigation. (Read: Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard: with the video game industry under new management, what’s going to change?)

According to a source close to the news website, the inspection aims to determine whether the Activision acquisition will inflict harm on the global gaming competition and will be handled by the United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC), instead of the Department of Justice, promising aggressive and sharp enforcement upon the purchase.

“The FTC will oversee the investigation into whether the takeover will harm competition, instead of the Justice Department,” the article said. “The two agencies share responsibility for antitrust reviews of mergers and often reach agreements about which one will investigate a deal.”

Back in January, FTC chair Lina Khan announced, in a series of tweets, joint plans of reviewing and strengthening merger guidelines between her agency and the DOJ. This aims to cushion concerns about the increased number of merger and acquisition filings in the past two years. In this case, the antitrust review can be done by both agencies but with the FTC advocating a more fierce process, it became fitter to take action for a merger this big. 

The publication also pointed out that the inspection will also focus on the whole unification of Activision’s gaming titles with Microsoft’s consoles, which could potentially limit their rival companies’ access to the former’s leading games such as the Call of Duty series and Crash Bandicoot line.

Despite being vocal about not having any plans to release future titles within the exclusivity of their consoles, this deal between two giant parties can be in jeopardy as regards the major potential it possesses. 

It can be remembered that back in December of last year, the FTC filed an action to block US-based semiconductor chip maker Nvidia from purchasing UK-based semiconductor and software designer Arm. The pending case, which is scheduled to start trial on August 9, 2022,  was a result of its efforts to preserve healthy competition in the global chip market.

Microsoft, Activision, and FTC have yet to release any statement about the review. Moreso, with the investigations, just beginning, further updates about the deal are expected to come in the next few months.

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