Microsoft has won its court case against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to acquire Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard. The FTC, in an attempt to block the almost $70 billion buyout from moving forward, took Microsoft to court over a lengthy battle that recently culminated in the judge’s ruling to give the company the go-ahead to purchase Activision Blizzard. However, Microsoft isn’t over the finish line just yet as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) remains the final hurdle to overcome.
Before the case was cleared, the FTC filed for a preliminary injunction that would’ve blocked the deal from moving forward until the US regulator’s in-house court had a chance to rule on whether or not the acquisition would hurt the gaming industry. However, judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the United States District Court denied the injunction, essentially giving Microsoft the green light.
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Judge Corley’s ruling stated:
“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.”
It’s important to note that the ruling largely dictates that Microsoft live up to its promise to keep the Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation platforms for another decade as well as release new titles on Nintendo Switch.
Speaking against the FTC’s injuction, the judge added:
“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.”
Responding to the news, Xbox boss Phil Spencer responded:
“We’re grateful to the court for swiftly deciding in our favor. 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,” Spencer added.
The UK’s CMA previously blocked the acquisition from happening, though it recently paused all legal proceedings with Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. “We stand ready to consider any proposals from Microsoft to restructure the transaction in a way that would address the concerns set out in our Final Report,” said a CMA spokesperson.
“In order to be able to prioritise work on these proposals, Microsoft and Activision have agreed with the CMA that a stay of litigation in the UK would be in the public interest and all parties have made a joint submission to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to this effect,” the CMA added.
Source: Video Games Chronicle