The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has moved to block Microsoft’s acquisition of the video game company Activision Blizzardciting concerns that the deal would stifle competition by denying competitors access to popular gaming content.
Microsoft, which owns the Xbox video game console system, said it would buy Activision in January 2022 for $68.7bn, making it the biggest gaming industry deal in history. Activision makes popular games including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
The FTC voted 3-1 on Thursday to issue its complaint after a closed-door meeting, with three Democratic commissioners voting in favor and one Republican voting against.
The US agency, which enforces consumer protection and antitrust laws, said the merger could stifle its competitors. Xbox game consoles and its growing games subscription business.
The agency said Microsoft bought valuable gaming content and used it to fend off threats from rival consoles. Agreement had raised Concerns with the UK’s competition regulator said it could “significantly reduce competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services and cloud gaming services”.
“Microsoft has already demonstrated that it can withhold content from its gaming competitors,” said Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Today we seek to prevent Microsoft from gaining control of a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in several dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”
Microsoft CEO Brad Smith said the company would fight the FTC. “While we hope to give peace a chance, we have full confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court,” he said.
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