Another potential bump in the road for the $68.7 deal.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly “likely” to file an antitrust lawsuit to block the $68.7 billion deal that would see Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard.
As reported by Politico, this news comes by the way of “three people with knowledge of the matter,” and they stress this lawsuit is “not guaranteed.”
The FTC's four commissioners haven't taken the time to vote out a complaint or even meet with the lawyers from Microsoft and Activision, but the FTC staff reviewing the deal are “skeptical of the companies' arguments.”
As for where the deal stands, much of the “heavy lifting” has been completed, including depositions of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. This means a decision on a potential antitrust lawsuit could arrive as soon as December.
The main crux of the problem, according to the FTC, is some worry this deal will give “Microsoft an unfair boost in the video game market.”
Sony has, obviously, been one of the biggest opponents against the deal, and the question of where Call of Duty will appear has been one of the hottest topics. Despite Xbox head Phil Spencer stating Call of Duty will continue to ship on PlayStation “as long as there's a PlayStation to ship to,” there are still concerns with what other issues this deal may create.
Sony has previously said that Microsoft is a “Tech Titan buying up irreplaceable content at incontestable prices ($68.7 billion) to tip competition to itself.”
There are concerns beyond Call of Duty, however, as there is worry what future mega-hit titles will do to tip the scales if they are locked behind one platform.
Google is also said to be against the deal, claiming Microsoft has “purposely degraded the quality of its Game Pass subscription service when used with Google’s Chrome operating system.” If the deal were to go through, it believes it would “further [Microsoft's] incentive to do so.”
Microsoft has disputed many of these claims and acknowledges that, even after the deal closes, it would still be in third place.
“We’ll still trail Sony and Tencent in the market after the deal closes, and together Activision and Xbox will benefit gamers and developers and make the industry more competitive,” Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said.
Alongside the FTC, regulators in Europe and the UK have also launched in-depth probes, meaning the deal likely won't close until the Spring at the earliest. Microsoft and Activision have until July 2022 to close the deal or they will have to renegotiate the agreement.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.