Microsoft + Activision Blizzard Deal to Be Handled by the Harsher FTC
Following the announcement of Sony's deal to acquire Bungie for $3.6 billion, there's yet more negative news (albeit unofficial as of now) for Microsoft. Bloomberg reports that the massive deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion will be handled by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) instead of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The FTC is generally perceived to be a harsher obstacle to get through. That's particularly true since Lina Khan was appointed as Chair by Joe Biden, as Khan is well-known to be critical of Big Tech. She rose to prominence with the famous essay titled Amazon's Antitrust Paradox.
Even though it's been less than a year since she stepped into the role, the FTC already sued to block two big acquisitions - NVIDIA's $40 billion Arm deal (now basically over as NVIDIA itself appears to have lost hope it could get through) and Lockheed's $4.4 billion Aerojet Rocketdyne deal.
That doesn't necessarily mean the same will happen with the Microsoft + Activision Blizzard deal. After all, US Congressman Ken Buck already said Microsoft provided encouraging assurances on the subject. It does mean Microsoft will have to work harder and possibly provide even more solid assurances, though. They already confirmed Call of Duty would stay on PlayStation platforms, but that statement was admittedly a bit vague, and we imagine the FTC would demand more specifics.
On the flip side, Sony's announcement could possibly work in Microsoft's favor with the FTC. Head of Gaming Phil Spencer already highlighted the hugely competitive market in the industry and Bungie's deal is yet more proof of that. Sony even hinted it's not done with acquisitions and we reckon neither is Microsoft. Of course, there are also Tencent, Embracer Group, and other big publishers such as Take-Two focused on acquisitions and investments.
As a reminder, Microsoft would have to pay Activision Blizzard between 2 and 3 billion dollars if the deal isn't finalized.