Microsoft’s chances of completing its $70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard look a little slim this week. Citing three sources familiar with the matter, Politico reports that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will “likely” try to block the deal with an antitrust lawsuit.
The news comes as the deal comes under scrutiny from Britain and the UK European Union also regulator. Governments around the world are striving to rein in the power of big tech companies, and Microsoft’s gaming power movement gives them a big goal. FTC Chair Lina Khan has spoken out openly against potential technology monopolies.
Politico sources say the decision has not yet been made, but that “FTC officials reviewing the deal are skeptical of the companies’ arguments.”
Meanwhile, the battle of words between Sony and Microsoft over the deal took an absurd turn on Wednesday when the UK regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, made it public collide Testify The two companies had made this to their investigators in October. Sony is asking regulators to block the deal, saying Microsoft, which controls Activision Blizzard and the Call of Duty franchise in particular, will eliminate competition in the gaming market.
Both companies were put in the unusual position of arguing that their competitors were far more successful than themselves and hunched over to present themselves as rowdy underdogs.
“The claim that reigning market leader Sony, with clear and sustained market power, could be foreclosed on by the smallest of the three console competi tors, Xbox, because it loses access to a title is not credible,” Microsoft protested. (It has also strenuously denied it would even do such a thing; Microsoft gaming boss Phil Spencer said Call of Duty would stay on PlayStation “as long as there’s a PlayStation to ship to,” while the company said the New York Times
Microsoft also generously claimed that its own exclusive games were rubbish compared to Sony’s. “Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are of better quality,” it said, citing “iconic first-party franchises.”” like God of War and Uncharted. PlayStation had “nearly five times as many” exclusive titles as Xbox.
Sony’s response was to trash its own subscription service. “Game Pass clearly leads PlayStation Plus”, it moaned. “Microsoft already has a significant lead in multi-game subscription services. Game Pass has 29 million Xbox Game Pass console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers and is expected to grow significantly in the future. PlayStation Plus subscription tiers for multiple games are lagging behind significantly,” it added humbly.
Sony also took pot shots at EA’s Battlefield series on the side, arguing that Call of Duty is too popular in its space to compete with should Microsoft make it exclusive. “Even if SIE had the ability and resources to develop a franchise as successful as Call of Duty,” Sony said, “it would take many, many years and billions of dollars to create a challenger for Call of Duty — and the example of EA’s Battlefield shows that such efforts would most likely be unsuccessful.” Shots fired!
Microsoft aims to complete its acquisition of Activision Blizzard sometime before mid-2023.