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FTC Makes Another Move to Block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Takeover

  • The Federal Trade Commission will file an injunction to block Microsoft’s takeover before the deal’s July 18 deadline.
  • Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision acquisition also faces opposition from U.K. regulators.
The FTC is filing an injunction to block Microsoft's deal.
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September 27, 2023 | Podcast
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The Federal Trade Commission plans to file for an injunction to block Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard before the deal’s July 18 deadline. 

“We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court,” Microsoft president Brad Smith told CNBC. “We believe accelerating the legal process in the U.S. will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.”

The FTC sued last December to block Microsoft’s takeover of Activision after their original agreement was reached in January 2022. Regulators in the U.K. also blocked the deal in April due to concerns of Microsoft controlling too much of the cloud gaming market should they absorb Activision, which publishes video games such as Call of Duty and Overwatch. Microsoft’s appeal of the U.K.’s decision is scheduled for this summer.

Japan has approved the gaming merger, while European Union regulators reportedly plan to let the deal go through. Activision Blizzard recorded positive results in its Q1 2023 earnings report with a net income of $740 million — an 87% increase over the previous year’s first quarter. 

Activision also owns the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League, but the esports entities have struggled financially over the past couple of years. Jacob Wolf reported that Activision Blizzard was owed $400 million in franchise payments across the two leagues.

The Toronto Defiant Overwatch team said earlier this month that the league agreed to waive about $8 million in entry fees the team owed to the league as part of Activision’s efforts to provide financial relief to esports teams in the CDL and OWL.

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