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Microsoft’s Activision Buy Should Be Paused, FTC Argues In Court

 |  June 22, 2023

The US Federal Trade Commission is seeking a preliminary injunction in federal court to halt Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The injunction would delay the deal’s closure until the government’s case against it is heard by an administrative judge.

“If this deal is completed, the combined company … is likely to have the ability, an incentive, to harm competition in various markets related to consoles, subscription services and the cloud (for gaming),” FTC lawyer James Weingarten said in the government’s opening arguments in what is expected to be a five-day evidentiary hearing, reported Reuters.

The FTC is seeking a judge’s intervention to halt the $69 billion merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard until their in-house court can determine whether the merger could negatively impact competition in the videogame industry.

Related: Microsoft Calls UK Watchdog An ‘Outlier’ For Blocking Activision Tie-Up

According to the FTC, if the combination were to go through, Microsoft’s Xbox videogame console would have exclusive access to Activision games, potentially leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony’s PlayStation without access.

During the opening arguments, Microsoft lawyer Beth Wilkinson stated that it would be logical for Xbox to distribute the Activision games across multiple platforms. She also mentioned that if an injunction is approved, it could potentially lead to a three-year administrative proceeding that could negatively impact the deal.

The first witness to testify was Matt Booty, the head of Xbox Game Studios at Microsoft. Other witnesses included Sarah Bond, the corporate vice president of gaming ecosystem at Microsoft, and Pete Hines, the group senior vice president and head of publishing at Microsoft subsidiary Bethesda Softworks.