Are the FTC and Microsoft talks at a standstill?

The FTC have sued to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, but no “substantive” settlement talks are underway

Are the FTC and Microsoft talks at a standstill?

Microsoft’s ongoing attempts to acquire Activision-Blizzard was one of the biggest gaming stories of 2022. Although the deal has been approved in several territories, most recently Chile, it’s also come under scrutiny from regulatory bodies who fear that the deal could negatively affect competitors.

One such regulatory body is the FTC, which is suing to block the acquisition. While Microsoft has made it clear that they look forward to arguing their case, the FTC stated in a pre-trial call that no “substantive” talks have taken place which would allow the case to be settled out of court, reports Reuters.

For its part, Microsoft claims that it has offered to make significant concessions, including signing a legally binding consent decree with the FTC confirming that the Call of Duty franchise – a major point of contention for both the board and chief competitor Sony – will be available on PlayStation consoles for at least the next decade, having previously refused to sign such contracts.

What do the experts think?

While the offer seem to have fallen short of meeting the FTC’s needs, antitrust experts believe that they have made it more difficult for the FTC to convince a judge to block the deal, as Microsoft is actively taking steps to allay concerns by making concessions.

This does lend a level of credence to Microsoft’s repeated claims that the main goal of the acquisition isn’t Call of Duty or another console franchise, but the continued strength of Activision Blizzard subsidiary King. While some industry experts have claimed that the prospect of making one of the world’s most popular gaming franchises of all time exclusive to Xbox was a part of the decision, Microsoft has repeatedly downplayed its importance, most recently claiming “The acquisition of a single game by a third-party console manufacturer cannot upend a highly competitive industry.”

A ruling on the case is expected in August. We covered the acquisition as part of our BIG stories series in December, recapping some of 2022’s biggest stories.



Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.