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Federal Trade Commission Could Block Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Deal

Federal Trade Commission Could Block Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Deal
Microsoft | Activision Blizzard

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

2nd Feb 2022 10:11

It's the deal to (potentially) end all deals, but as Microsoft powers ahead with its record-breaking $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, there's a major obstacle standing in its way. While articles about PlayStation being wiped off the board are all the rage right now, Sony could still get the last laugh if the monopoly merger is blocked.

The tale as old as time has seen Microsoft and Sony duke it out since the release of the OG Xbox in 2001 and kick off the console wars as we know them today. Before that, the likes of SEGA, Nintendo, and Sony played nice with toys in the playpen. These days, Xbox and PlayStation stand are willing to spill blood over something as simple as whether Crash Bandicoot will go exclusive.

What's Going On With The Microsoft Deal?

Phil Spencer breaking bread with the entrenched Bobby Kotick is all well and good, but it's a long way from signing on the dotted line. Just like there were questions about whether Microsoft could gobble ZeniMax Media and the Bethesda family, the gaming giant's monopoly could be stopped in its tracks by the Federal Trade Commission. 

According to Bloomberg (via GameSpot), the FTC will now review the deal and the impact it could have on the industry and Microsoft's competition. Sources close to Bloomberg say that while the Justice Department can also get involved, both it and the FTC are responsible for antitrust reviews of mergers.

This might sound like a lot of big words, but basically, the FTC has to look at whether the deal is fair. It's not simply a case of the side with the most money barrelling and pushing the others out of the market - this isn't the school playground. 

Could The FTC Block The Microsoft Deal?

The crux of the investigation is to see whether Activision Blizzard's acquisition will cut off rivals' access to some of its biggest franchises. With this in mind, it starts to make a lot more sense as to why Spencer has promised Call of Duty will remain a multi-platform series. Even then, it doesn't mean CoD will always be shared among the masses. 

As GameSpot points out, the FTC recently blocked Nvidia's proposed buyout of Arm Ltd. and Lockheed Martin Corp.'s move to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., so the acquisition is far from done. Despite Microsoft's purchase of Mojang, it continued to publish Minecraft on PlayStation, but it remains to be seen which chess pieces the Xbox giant will be keeping on its side of the board. 

 

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