With the dust settling on the battle between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Microsoft in court, it’s been announced that Microsoft has won its case. The FTC had taken its bid to the Northern District of California Court for a temporary order that could keep Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from finalising the acquisition while the FTC’s in-house court continued to discuss Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, but it’s ultimately been unsuccessful.
Presiding over the case, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley denied the FTC’s motion, concluding that the intense debate around the deal, and especially Microsoft’s potential ownership of the Call of Duty franchise, has already resulted in the tech giant making a satisfactory commitment to keeping Call of Duty on other platforms. Corley said [via VGC], “Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision has been described as the largest in tech history. It deserves scrutiny. That scrutiny has paid off: Microsoft has committed in writing, in public, and in court to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years on parity with Xbox. It made an agreement with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Switch. And it entered several agreements to for the first time bring Activision’s content to several cloud gaming services.”
“This Court’s responsibility in this case is narrow. It is to decide if, notwithstanding these current circumstances, the merger should be halted perhaps even terminated pending resolution of the FTC administrative action. 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. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore denied.”
2/Since we first announced this deal, our commitment to bringing more games to more people on more devices has only grown. We’ve signed multiple agreements to make Activision Blizzard’s games, Xbox first party games and Game Pass all available to more players than they are today.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has said of the ruling, “We’re grateful to the court for swiftly deciding in our favour. The evidence showed the Activision Blizzard deal is good for the industry and the FTC’s claims about console switching, multi-game subscription services, and cloud don’t reflect the realities of the gaming market.
“Since we first announced this deal, our commitment to bringing more games to more people on more devices has only grown. We’ve signed multiple agreements to make Activision Blizzard’s games, Xbox first party games and Game Pass all available to more players than they are today. We know that players around the world have been watching this case closely and I’m proud of our efforts to expand player access and choice throughout this journey.”
Microsoft has a vested interest in getting the deal across the line before July 18, at which point it could reportedly owe Activision Blizzard a $3 billion termination payout. So far only the UK’s consumer authority has outright voted to block the deal, with the European Commission having approved it back in May.