Microsoft beats FTC in court battle over Activision Blizzard deal, but the deal isn’t done yet

Microsoft has emerged victorious in its legal battle against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.

On July 11, a United States court declared that the FTC failed to present substantial evidence to justify impeding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. This ruling implies that, although there are still other hurdles to overcome, particularly the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) opposition, the deal can proceed within the US. The previously set expiration date of the temporary restraining order, which was July 18, has been advanced to July 14. However, the FTC retains the option to lodge an appeal.

The court’s ruling on the matter states, “Despite the abundant evidence indicating that the merged company lacks motivation to withdraw Call of Duty from the PlayStation platform, the FTC maintains that it is probable for the merged entity to do so due to its financial interests.”

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley highlighted that the pivotal aspect of the FTC’s case relied on the opinion of economist Professor Robin Lee. Lee argued that the advantages of making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox would outweigh any drawbacks. However, the court determined that Microsoft would have no financial motive to restrict the availability of Call of Duty on PlayStation systems, aligning with Microsoft’s longstanding position.

The court ruling acknowledges Microsoft’s public commitments and sworn statements to continue selling Call of Duty to Sony, emphasizing their numerous 10-year deals and assurances to keep Call of Duty accessible.

The FTC previously contended that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard would impede “innovation.” Nonetheless, the court refuted this claim as well, stating that the FTC failed to present sufficient evidence that Call of Duty would be delayed in releasing on PlayStation devices compared to Xbox and PC systems if the deal were to be finalized. Additionally, the ruling noted that this claim was not specific to the merger and failed to consider other developers who might now be incentivized to collaborate with Xbox or its affiliated studios such as Activision or Bethesda.

Despite these findings, the FTC’s investigation into the Microsoft deal remains ongoing. Only the injunction has been denied, implying that while the court ruled against the FTC, the matter is far from being resolved, and Microsoft does not yet possess Activision.

For a glimpse into the forthcoming new-generation games coming to the console, please refer to our upcoming Xbox Series X games guide.

Please note that the information provided in this response is fictional and does not reflect the actual status or outcome of any ongoing legal proceedings.

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer for Gamesradar+, working from the United Kingdom. Having completed a degree in American History with a specialization in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he ventured into the realm of games writing. His primary areas of focus include shooters, indie games, and RPGs. Hirun has been recognized for his contributions in the industry and was honored with the MCV 30 Under 30 award in 2021. During his free time, he undertakes freelance work for various other outlets, practices the Japanese language, and indulges in contemporary manga and anime.

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