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Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to take Microsoft to court to block the company’s $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Well, that case is now entering its pre-trial. A federal judge has put a date for the FTC and Microsoft to meet in court on January 3rd.

Microsoft has faced scrutiny over the deal from the CMA in the UK, FTC in the US, and European Commission in the EU. Sony has also been weighing in and joining regulators by claiming Microsoft’s deal is anti-competition.

In December, the FTC chose to take that concern further with a lawsuit that Microsoft says is unconstitutional.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” FTC Director Holly Vedova said last month. “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.”

Microsoft president Brad Smith says that he expects the Activision Blizzard merger to go through in 2023. However, Microsoft will first have to see off the FTC in court. That is likely to happen because the FTC does not have a great case to make.

Tough Case to Make

There is no merger that would essentially remove competitors from the market. Furthermore, Microsoft is willing to make concessions regarding the availability of Activision games on other platforms. The company has an agreement with Nintendo to keep Call of Duty on Switch for 10 years, while a similar offer is available for Sony.

“The commission cannot meet its burden of showing that the transaction would leave consumers worse off, because the transaction will allow consumers to play Activision’s games on new platforms and access them in new and more affordable ways,” Microsoft wrote last month.

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