FTC moves to block Microsoft from Activision Blizzard acquisition

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The Federal Trade Commission this week said it will seek to block Microsoft Corp. from acquiring Activision Blizzard Inc.

The FTC alleges harm to competitors and subscription services by allowing Microsoft to deny titles to rival hardware, manipulate Activision’s pricing, or change terms and timing to access to Activision’s content.

It citied Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax in Mar. 2021 which allowed the company to secure exclusive release of new game Ips including Starfield and Redfall for Xbox.

The acquisition, which Microsoft expects to close in fiscal year 2023, would allow competitors access to the popular first-person shooter franchise. This week, it entered into a 10-year agreement to release Call of Duty titles to Nintendo Co., Ltd. and Steam platforms should a merger with Activision Blizzard Inc. close. Microsoft has not yet hammered an agreement to release the franchise to Sony Corp.’s PlayStation consoles.

Microsoft in Jan. said it will acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion in an all-cash transaction.

The acquisition would propel Microsoft’s game business in console, PC, cloud, and mobile with franchises including Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, and Candy Crush.

In addition, Microsoft plans to release Activision Blizzard titles to Xbox Game Pass, a monthly service that holds more than 25 million subscribers.


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