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FTC sues to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

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The Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday it has filed an antitrust case against Microsoft to challenge the software maker’s attempt to acquire video game publisher Activision Blizzard, claiming it would violate U.S. law.This isn’t Microsoft’s first time dealing with competitive pressure. In 1998 the U.S. Justice Department filed a broad antitrust case against the company. Microsoft changed some practices related to its Windows operating system business as a result. Regulators in the United Kingdom are looking into whether the Activision Blizzard acquisition would lessen competition in the country.related investing news Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January, with the goal of closing it by June 2023. The deal has come under pressure from Microsoft’s competitors in gaming, such as Sony. Microsoft has repeatedly said it won’t be the world’s leader in gaming if the deal were to close, and it has vowed to provide popular “Call of Duty” games on gaming platforms other than those owned by Microsoft.”We continue to believe that this deal will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s vice chair and president, said in a statement. “We have been committed since Day One to addressing competitive concerns, including by offering earlier this week proposed concessions to the FTC. While we believed in giving peace a chance, we have complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court.”FTC commissioners voted 3-1 to move forward with the agency’s administrative complaint, which will go before the FTC’s internal administrative law judge. In that process, the ALJ makes an initial decision after a trial-like proceeding. The respondent or FTC staff serving as “complaint counsel” can choose to appeal the initial decision to the full commission for a vote. After that, the respondent could still ask a federal appeals court to review the commission’s order.”With control of Activision’s content, Microsoft would have the ability and increased incentive to withhold or degrade Activision’s content in ways that substantially lessen competition — including competition on product quality, price, and innovation,” the FTC said in its complaint. “This loss of competition would likely result in significant harm to consumers in multiple markets at a pivotal time for the industry.” In the statement, the FTC said Microsoft has a record, including with its 2021 ZeniMax deal, of buying games and using the moves to suppress competition from other companies that make consoles. Microsoft promised the European Commission antitrust officials that the company wouldn’t have an incentive to stop people from playin ZeniMax games on consoles other than the Xbox, but after the European Commission permitted the deal to proceed, Microsoft announced that it was making ZeniMax games such as Elder Scrolls VI, Redfall and Starfield into exclusives, th …

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