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US Federal Trade Commission "Likely to File Antitrust Lawsuit" to Block Microsoft Acquisition of Activision Blizzard

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Here's some potentially bad news for the sale of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft, as Politico is reporting that it is likely the US FTC will be filing a lawsuit to stop the acquisition - based on three sources "familiar with the matter". A lawsuit could postpone the deal's timing and even endanger it altogether, regardless of its result.

The acquisition deal has seen a lot of pressure and antitrust probes coming from many sides (including several other countries' regulating bodies and watchdog organizations), as it could constitute an unfair boost for Microsoft's side. The most vocal voice against the sale is Microsoft's chief console competitor, Sony, who argues that the sale would open the door to making many Activision Blizzard games (mostly focusing on Call of Duty) exclusive to Microsoft platforms. This, Sony argues, would significantly disadvantage Sony platforms and leave consumers with less choices for gaming.

A lawsuit challenging the deal is not guaranteed, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote out a complaint or meet with lawyers for the companies, two of the people said. However, the FTC staff reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments, those people said.

The investigation remains ongoing, but much of the heavy lifting is completed, including depositions of Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Activision head Bobby Kotick, the people with knowledge of the investigation said. If the agency does move ahead with a case, it could come as soon as next month, said the people, all of whom were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential matter.

- Politico's Josh Sisco

Well known gaming industry journalist Jason Schreier also weighed in on the story as well:

You can read the full Politico article here, as it goes in to detail about both Microsoft and Sony's arguments so far, as well as Google and Epic's involvement.

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A lawsuit challenging the deal is not guaranteed, and the FTC’s four commissioners have yet to vote out a complaint or meet with lawyers for the companies

In other words, nothing has happened or is confirmed to be happening. This is 100% speculation. Sony's argument is simply "Microsoft could make certain very popular titles exclusive to their systems". That doesn't create an unfair advantage, it is just a continuation of the ongoing battle of consoles. Additionally, Call of Duty is the key issue here, not the entire library of games from Activision Blizzard, which are mostly PC-based. The most likely outcome is a court challenge for appearances but that will end with a court deciding there is no legitimate argument for anti-trust.

In the end, this is Sony trying to delay the inevitable so they might profit from the CoD franchise as much as they can before it gets pulled (if it does at all seeing as there is a huge player-base for CoD on the PS platform). Realistically, it doesn't make good business sense for MS to pull the franchise (or any for that matter) from any non-MS platform as it is just lost dollars and alienated players.

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I find it kinda hilarious that Sony who has a ton of console exclusives are complaining about Microsoft getting more console exclusives. Either they get rid of that concept entirely or surely it's fair game for everybody?

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In the end, it all depends on how much MS is willing to spend when they bride the FTC to look the other way with anything that could prevent the deal going forward.

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if sony is so afraid of loosing cod they should offer to buy it. you can just buy the game you dont need to buy whole actiblizz if you are only concerned about cod

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1 hour ago, Nakzul said:

I find it kinda hilarious that Sony who has a ton of console exclusives are complaining about Microsoft getting more console exclusives. Either they get rid of that concept entirely or surely it's fair game for everybody?

I don't think Playstation would agree with that as they're hypocrites. If exclusives didn't exist Playstation would suffer a lot more than Xbox as there is no other reason other than having friends on the platform to buy one. The price and capabilities are in xbox's favour, gamepass outvalues anything Playstation has to offer, Xbox has a growing 'play anywhere' capability with PC, Playstation has none of this. Even Discord have partnered with Xbox and wont be integrating with Playstation until MARCH/AUGUST 2023

Edited by Cham79

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1 hour ago, rakonga said:

In a field with 15 quadrillion companies churning out games, where is the monopoly? this spectable is inane.

Then you don't know what monopoly means. It's never good when most top franchises are held by same four companies while indie devs are bought up quickly when they get bigger, thus no other independent big publisher or developer can ever arise.

Anyway, I wonder if anything will come out of it. It seemed unlikely that anything could stop this deal.

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11 hours ago, Cham79 said:

I don't think Playstation would agree with that as they're hypocrites. If exclusives didn't exist Playstation would suffer a lot more than Xbox as there is no other reason other than having friends on the platform to buy one. The price and capabilities are in xbox's favour, gamepass outvalues anything Playstation has to offer, Xbox has a growing 'play anywhere' capability with PC, Playstation has none of this. Even Discord have partnered with Xbox and wont be integrating with Playstation until MARCH/AUGUST 2023

They really are though. Sony has been THE no.1 platform exclusive advocate for years, and even now that they're putting stuff on the PC (literally only in the past year or so) they still do massively timed exclusives. All the things you listed are unrelated to the conversation, you're basically saying "but exclusivity is Sony's only weapon, so they aren't hypocrites when they don't want others to use that same weapon".

Personally I don't want any exclusives at all and I hope if the buyout goes through Playstation keeps all Acti-Blizz games, but Sony has been a giant hypocrite about this - basically shitting their pants over losing CoD - and you'd better believe they'd have done the SAME thing and bought Acti Blizz if they could/the price was right, and then CoD would be 100000% exclusive to Playstation.

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3 minutes ago, Starym said:

They really are though. Sony has been THE no.1 platform exclusive advocate for years, and even now that they're putting stuff on the PC (literally only in the past year or so) they still do massively timed exclusives. All the things you listed are unrelated to the conversation, you're basically saying "but exclusivity is Sony's only weapon, so they aren't hypocrites when they don't want others to use that same weapon".

Personally I don't want any exclusives at all and I hope if the buyout goes through Playstation keeps all Acti-Blizz games, but Sony has been a giant hypocrite about this - basically shitting their pants over losing CoD - and you'd better believe they'd have done the SAME thing and bought Acti Blizz if they could/the price was right, and then CoD would be 100000% exclusive to Playstation.

I agree with everything you said. Just wanna add that bringing games to PC has no impact on the console war between Playstation and Xbox. Usually people with multiple platforms will have a gaming PC and then one or both of the consoles meanwhile console players generally only have one of the consoles.

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12 hours ago, Starym said:

They really are though. Sony has been THE no.1 platform exclusive advocate for years, and even now that they're putting stuff on the PC (literally only in the past year or so) they still do massively timed exclusives. All the things you listed are unrelated to the conversation, you're basically saying "but exclusivity is Sony's only weapon, so they aren't hypocrites when they don't want others to use that same weapon".

Personally I don't want any exclusives at all and I hope if the buyout goes through Playstation keeps all Acti-Blizz games, but Sony has been a giant hypocrite about this - basically shitting their pants over losing CoD - and you'd better believe they'd have done the SAME thing and bought Acti Blizz if they could/the price was right, and then CoD would be 100000% exclusive to Playstation.

Quote

you're basically saying "but exclusivity is Sony's only weapon, so they aren't hypocrites when they don't want others to use that same weapon".

I am saying Sony aren't hypocrites? Bro read literally the first sentence I wrote at least 💀

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15 hours ago, Cham79 said:

I am saying Sony aren't hypocrites? Bro read literally the first sentence I wrote at least 💀

"I don't think Playstation would agree with that as they're hypocrites." I read that as you thinking that as well/ you presenting their case because you agree, not sure why you'd argue it otherwise.

Also maybe don't go all "bro l2read" when your post isn't quite as clear-cut as you think. I may have read it wrong but there is room for interpretation there, and if I misinterpreted you I apologize. But to me your post still sounds like it's defending Sony, despite the "they wouldn't call themselves" angle.

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