The FTC could file an antitrust suit to block Microsoft’s purchase of Activision

Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard is under scrutiny from antitrust investigators in several countries. In the US, for example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) started investigating the acquisition shortly after the announcement. Now the FTC is reportedly ready to take action and will likely file an antitrust suit to block Microsoft’s massive purchase, according to Politics. Microsoft failed to convince the FTC employees who reviewed the deal with their arguments, Politicos sources said, but agency commissioners have yet to vote on filing a complaint or meeting with lawyers.

While a lawsuit is not yet 100 percent guaranteed, the commission is reportedly done with most parts of the investigation, including statements from Microsoft chief Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. If the FTC ultimately decides to file a lawsuit, it could be done as early as next month. The publication says the commission will likely take the case to its own internal administrative court, as it does not have to take it to federal court first to seek a temporary injunction. Since other regulators are also looking at the acquisition, it could not go ahead until sometime next year (if it is finally allowed).

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an in-depth investigation into the deal in September. And more recently, the European Commission has announced that it will conduct a full investigation into the purchase of Microsoft. Like these two European regulators, the FTC is concerned that the acquisition will give Microsoft an unfair advantage in the gaming industry and could significantly reduce competition in the market.

Sony was one of the loudest voices opposing the deal and has expressed concern that Microsoft could make valuable IPs Duty an Xbox exclusive. Sony PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan previously revealed that Microsoft was only offering to keep Duty available on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement expires. But Xbox chief Phil Spencer said more recently that the company is “not taking Duty of PlayStation.” In Microsoft’s latest filing with the CMA, it argued that the acquisition will not give it an unfair advantage: Sony has more exclusive games than the Xbox, many of which are of “better quality”.

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