Trade commission to investigate deal for antitrust concerns
While the ink is more or less dry on Microsoft’s industry-shaking acquisition of Activision Blizzard, there are still several legal steps to be taken before the deal can be closed. The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is set to investigate the purchase to ensure that it does not breach any antitrust laws.
Originally, it was thought that the U.S. Justice Department would be overseeing the transaction, which sits somewhere in the region of an incredible $70 billion USD. However, as reported by Bloomberg, it appears that the FTC will instead be looking over the paperwork for Microsoft’s latest acquisition, ensuring that the Activision Blizzard deal will not bring any serious harm to market competition within the gaming industry be it in pricing, conflict of interest, or market monopoly.
If Bloomberg’s sources prove to be correct, then the investigation will be an interesting test of the FTC’s recent guideline revamp. Both the Trade Commission and the Justice Department recently re-evaluated its guidelines for antitrust concerns, following a major increase in global mergers and acquisitions across multiple industries. While it will likely be sometime before any such investigation is complete, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where the Microsoft/Activision merger does not go ahead as planned.
The purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft took the industry by storm when first announced on the morning of January 18. Activision Blizzard, which had spent much of 2021 in the headlines after it was hit with a lawsuit by the state of California, agreed to Microsoft’s purchase offer of $68.7 billion, though the studio will, for the time being, remain under the control of its current board of directors. Once the deal closes, Activision Blizzard will report to Xbox Head of Gaming, Phil Spencer.
You can read an abridged timeline of the Activision Blizzard controversy right here.