FTC sues to block Microsoft’s $75bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard

The US Federal Trade Commission says it will sue to block Microsoft’s $75bn acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard after the antitrust watchdog said the deal would suppress competition to its Xbox consoles and cloud-gaming business.

The commission voted 3-1 to issue the complaint, it said on Thursday. It is the latest in a number of hurdles for the transaction, which is also being scrutinised by the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the European Commission.

“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,” Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said in a statement.

The Activision deal would be Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition and would make it the third-biggest gaming company in terms of revenues, behind China’s Tencent and Japan’s Sony.

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“With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers,” the FTC said in its press release.

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