It is looking increasingly as if the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit that would block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This would give Microsoft control over Call of Duty and Candy Crush, among other premium titles.
As the deal is $69 billion, this would be a serious statement of intent against one of the biggest players in the world of big tech. Commentators and observers have become increasingly nervous over the power, reach and influence of a small number of giant tech organisations in recent years.
In this case, the primary concern is that Microsoft, maker of the X-Box series of consoles, could shut main rival Sony out of several key titles such as Call Of Duty and give themselves an unfair position in the video game market. Regulators in the UK and EU have also opened probes into the deal.
Sony had previously said:
“[Microsoft is a] tech titan buying up irreplaceable content at incontestable prices ($68.7 billion) to tip competition to itself”.
Microsoft responded by saying it has repeatedly promised to keep Call of Duty available to Sony Playstation for the next decade.
The clock is ticking, as the deal would be up for renegotiating come July next year if not closed. This is likely to slow things down to such a degree that it could force the companies to abandon the deal.
Among major intellectual properties produced by Activision Blizzard are Crash Bandicoot, Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk’s, Spyro, Skylanders, World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch. They also invest heavily in e-sports.