The FTC is seeking to block a Microsoft Corp. takeover. On Activision Blizzard, Inc.

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block tech giant Microsoft from acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard, Inc. Call of dutyclaiming that the $69 billion deal, Microsoft’s largest ever and the largest ever in the video game industry, will enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox game consoles, rapidly growing subscription content and cloud gaming business.

In a complaint issued today, the FTC cited Microsoft’s record of acquiring and using valuable gaming content to suppress competition from rival consoles, including its acquisition of ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks (a well-known game developer). Microsoft decided to make several Bethesda titles including starfield And the Redfall exclusive to Microsoft despite assurances it has made to European antitrust authorities that it has no incentive to withhold games from competing consoles.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming competitors,” said Holly Vidova, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Competition. “Today we seek to prevent Microsoft from taking control of a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in dynamic and fast-growing game markets.”

Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Series X are just one of two types of high-performance video game consoles. Importantly, Microsoft also offers a leading video game content subscription service called Xbox Game Pass, as well as a high-end cloud-based video game streaming service, according to the complaint.

Activision is one of the very few top video game developers in the world that creates and publishes quality video games for multiple devices, including video game consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. It produces some of the most iconic and popular video game titles, including Call of dutyAnd the World of WarcraftAnd the DiabloAnd the And the OverwatchAnd the And the It has 154 million monthly active users worldwide. According to the FTC complaint. Activision currently has a strategy of offering its games on multiple devices regardless of the product.

But that could change if the deal is allowed to move forward. By controlling Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft will have the means and motive to harm the competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, impairing the quality of Activision’s games or player experience on competing consoles and game services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision content, or blocking content from competitors completely, resulting in harm to consumers.

The commission voted to issue the complaint 3-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson’s “No”. A copy of the administrative complaint will be available soon.

note: The commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that a law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the commission that the action is in the public interest. The issuance of an administrative complaint marks the beginning of a procedure by which claims are tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.

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