The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a press release stating its intent to try and block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
In their statement the FTC has claimed that Microsoft would “gain control of top video game franchises, enabling it to harm competition in high-performance gaming consoles and subscription services by denying or degrading rivals’ access to its popular content.”
Speaking plainly, this means that the FTC thinks that Microsoft’s £56.3million ($68.7 billion) acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard will give Microsoft too much control of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and other franchises.
Today’s FTC vote, coming just hours before The Game Awards, means Microsoft is now going to face a significant challenge in successfully acquiring Activision Blizzard, and will also likely embolden regulators in the UK and EU who have been looking closely at the deal. This follows weeks of Sony and Microsoft battling it out in the press.
“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, in a statement. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”
The FTC was clear in its statement, claiming “the Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has ‘reason to believe’ that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.”
From here, the next step is that the allegations will be tried in a formal hearing before a judge.
Microsoft’s current head of comms, Frank X Shaw, has followed the news by tweeting the following:
https://t.co/ZRY2wxQasr for context here. https://t.co/WGeUGSqu1H
— Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) December 8, 2022
Shaw followed this up with a tweet claiming “sharing is caring” with a link to Minecraft’s – a Microsoft game – store page on Sony’s PlayStation store.
NME has reached out to Microsoft for a statement and will update this story if they respond.