Microsoft’s $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard is hitting regulatory roadblocks in Europe, the UK, and in the United States. However, last week there were reports the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was ready to greenlight the merger following concessions from Microsoft. Now a new report from Bloomberg suggests that may not be the case and the agency is still going to file a lawsuit.
Despite reports of Microsoft concessions, a source tells Bloomberg that Microsoft has still not told the FTC about any concessions it is willing to make. We initially heard last week Microsoft is willing to make concessions to keep EU regulators happy.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported Microsoft and Sony have held meetings and Microsoft has agreed to a 10-year licensing deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Presuming the acquisition closes in 2023, that would keep the franchise on the Sony PlayStation 5 and then the future PlayStation 6 until at least 2033.
If reports of those concessions are accurate, the 10-year deal could be enough to appease the FTC too. However, Bloomberg reports the FTC is now aware of any concessions. The report does back up earlier claims that the regulator will finish its investigation soon and that a decision is likely to come in January.
Regulators remain concerned about how Microsoft will use the franchises it acquires by buying Activision Blizzard. Brands such as Call of Duty and Candy Crush will fall under Microsoft’s umbrella. Authorities and Sony are concerned Microsoft will make these franchises exclusive to its Game Pass service.
Microsoft has said it has no intention of doing this, so a 10-year licensing deal would go a long way to easing concerns. At the end of last month, it emerged the FTC was considering a lawsuit against Microsoft that would put the whole merger in question. It seems that is still very much a possibility.
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