The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) of the United States formally submitted a demand against Microsoft to try to block the purchase of Activision Blizzard King. The announcement, however, does not cause any surprise, since recent reports had already anticipated this movement. The aforementioned body has shown multiple concerns about the acquisition, mainly because, in its opinion, it could harm competition in the video game industry.
“The Federal Trade Commission is trying to stop technology giant Microsoft Corp. from acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard, Inc. and its highly successful game franchises such as call of dutyarguing that the $69 billion deal, the largest for Microsoft and the largest in the history of the video game industry, would allow Microsoft to remove competitors from its Xbox consoles and its rapidly growing cloud gaming and subscription content business.
In the document, the commission adds that Microsoft already has a purchase in its history that has harmed competition in the console sector. Obviously, it refers to ZeniMax (Bethesda owners); since some of its new games will not see the light of day on the Sony platform. “Microsoft decided to make several of Bethesda’s titles, including Starfield Y redfallexclusive to Microsoft, despite assurances it had given to European antitrust authorities that it had no intention of moving these games away from rival consoles,” they explain.
Holly Vedova, director of the FTC, points out that Microsoft has already demonstrated its ability to limit the availability of games on rival consoles. Therefore, it is a practice that they could replicate with the Activision Blizzard franchises. “Today we seek to prevent Microsoft from gaining control of a leading independent video game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple, fast-growing gaming markets,” he said.
Those led by Vedova point out that his concerns go beyond the consoles. Specifically, they say that Microsoft has a subscription service (Xbox Game Pass) and a cloud gaming platform (Xbox Cloud Gaming), which would benefit from the purchase of Activision.
On the other hand, they consider that Activision’s current base of active players, which amounts to 154 million when combining the communities of call of duty, world of warcraft, Devil Y Overwatchcould be hurt if the acquisition is given the green light.
“Microsoft would have the means to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s prices; degrading the quality of its games or the player experience on rival game consoles and services; changing the terms and time of access to Activision’s content, or withholding competitor content in its entirety, resulting in harm to consumers.”