Microsoft wins FTC case in battle to acquire Activision Blizzard

Microsoft has scored a major win in pursuit to acquire Activision Blizzard.


Updated on July 11, 2023 at 8:25 a.m. PT:  Xbox head Phil Spencer provided the following statement on Twitter following the court ruling:

The rest of the article remains as originally published.

For the last month or so, Microsoft and the FTC have been facing off in court over the former’s bid to acquire Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest publishers in the gaming industry. The FTC expressed anti-competitive concerns around the deal, and the trial saw the declassification of internal email from execs at Microsoft, Sony, and various other players in the industry. However, the FTC’s case wasn’t enough to stop the deal, as the court has ruled in favor of Microsoft.

News of Microsoft’s win over the FTC came in the late morning hours as journalists covering the case in-person heard the verdict. Specifically, Bloomberg’s Cecilia D'Anastasio was one of the first to break the news on Twitter. The decision came from Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley at the San Francisco court that the trial was being held. While Microsoft and Activision Blizzard denied to comment on the news, the FTC's Douglas Farrar provided Bloomberg with the following statement:

While this is a major win for Microsoft, it's worth noting that not all is said and done in Microsoft's pursuit to acquire Activision Blizzard. The CMA, the EU's regulatory body, is still objecting to the deal and will also be doing everything in its power to stop it from going through.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 11, 2023 8:15 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Microsoft wins FTC case in battle to acquire Activision Blizzard

    • reply
      July 11, 2023 8:10 AM

      Looks like the FTC just lost the injunction case against MS acquisition of ABK.

      Wonder if this means the news cycle will eventually move onto something else when this is finally done?

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        July 11, 2023 8:23 AM

        So what’s left then? The article makes it seem like it could go down by 7/18 but there’s also the UK parts which are being held up.

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          July 11, 2023 8:26 AM

          They're on appeal with the CMA and their case was partly based around the FTC not allowing the acquisition, so MS might be more confident they're going to win that now.

          MS could still close the deal and then deal with the CMA afterwards. The CMA appeal is on the 24th July. But pretty complicated if they lose and CMA still want to block the deal.

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            July 11, 2023 8:38 AM

            Also, now that they have the strength of the decision here, MS and Activision could mutually agree to extend the terms to clear the CMA issue.

            They have also spoken of simply not integrating their businesses in the UK if the CMA keeps blocking

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          July 11, 2023 8:30 AM

          There will still be a trial on the merger but the FTC failed here to show a need to block the acquisition from going forward now, but may be able to show that at trial.

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            July 11, 2023 9:40 AM

            Previously the FTC has abandoned cases where it didn't win a preliminary injunction

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        July 11, 2023 8:25 AM

        Has any big merger been successfully blocked? I can't think of one. Sure the FTC wrings its hands and we go through some trials but it seems like the corpos win at the end of the day. Maybe the failures just don't make the news.

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          July 11, 2023 8:33 AM

          Nvidia and Arm, though debatable if the FTC was the main factor

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          July 11, 2023 9:27 AM

          AT&T and T-Mobile was blocked under Obama, if I recall. It was in the news recently due to two Canadian telcos merging.

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          July 11, 2023 5:33 PM

          quite a few.

          AT&T and Time Warner merger
          General Electric and Honeywell merger
          Reynolds American & Lorillard
          AT&T and T-Mobile
          Ryanair and Aer Lingus
          Amgen got blocked from buying that competitor
          Nvidia and ARM

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        July 11, 2023 8:30 AM

        "For the reasons explained, the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content."

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          July 11, 2023 9:44 AM

          I think that if one company owns everything then the consumer access will be the best ever.

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            July 11, 2023 9:51 AM

            they promised it will be on playstation for 10 yrs, and cloud gaming when kotick was never gonna put it on the cloud

            honestly though, doubt it ever becomes exclusive, multiplayer games need a playerbase to excel, losing half your base would make games less fun and more stomps

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              July 11, 2023 9:10 PM

              Judging from what they did with Bethesda - of course everything will be exclusive.

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        July 11, 2023 8:31 AM

        It doesn't entirely mean that the FTC's case is lost, but not a good sign for anti-trust efforts going forward. Without new anti-trust legislation in the near future we're going to descend into mega-corp hell.

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          July 11, 2023 8:36 AM

          The CNN article points to a similar case with Meta, and when the FTC failed to get an injunction, decided to drop the case.

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          July 11, 2023 8:39 AM

          It's not legislation; we have that. It's a lack of will.

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      July 11, 2023 8:21 AM

      So I am guessing the deal will now close this week since the 18th is the date that the deal was supposed to close by without Microsoft having to pay Activision a few billion or re-negotiate.

      For England my guess is that if Microsoft can't get the CMA to change it's opinion that ActivisionBlizzardKing games will be sold by a 3rd party and not Microsoft within England.

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        July 11, 2023 8:40 AM

        With this win, MS will be on better terms to extend out the close of the deal with Activision, so they could push it past the CMA hearings.

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          July 11, 2023 8:49 AM

          Aren't the real FTC hearings also coming up next month?

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            July 11, 2023 9:08 AM

            Yes but will be more about if MS are ordered to commit to any concessions rather than blocking the deal.

            The judge in this injunction ruled that as far as she's seen the deal with be positive for consumers rather than negative or even neutral.

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      July 11, 2023 8:28 AM

      Well, it was nice to think that maybe we were going to get some sort of actual consumer protection for a brief moment but I guess it's clear that money still rules.

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      July 11, 2023 9:18 AM

      Welp, CMA pussied out

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      July 11, 2023 9:42 AM

      Was there any possibility of different outcome? The judge's son works for Microsoft...

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      July 11, 2023 10:45 AM

      And now confirmed that the CMA is pausing ots action to negotiate with MS

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      July 11, 2023 4:41 PM

      Yo, Donovan, the CMA regulates the UK, not the EU.

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      July 11, 2023 6:08 PM

      i for one am super excited to see all battlenet games moved over to the excellent store

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