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The FTC could challenge Microsoft’s Activision purchase by December

The Verge 6 days ago Mitchell Clark
© Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Federal Trade Commission is preparing a potential legal challenge to Microsoft’s plan to buy Activision for $68.7 billion, and it could file the lawsuit by next month, according to Politico. The outlet’s sources say both CEOs — Satya Nadella and Bobby Kotick — have already been deposed, and yet the FTC remains skeptical.

The report notes that there are still a few steps to go before the regulator is ready to act, including a vote from its commissioners. If it does end up happening, it’d mean the deal would face antitrust challenges in the US, UK and the EU. This is despite Microsoft’s repeated attempts to assure regulators that its purchase of Activision — the company in charge of Candy Crush, Call of Duty, and all of Blizzard — wouldn’t hurt competition in the gaming space.

The company has basically been in an all-out PR battle with its competitor, Sony (which may be getting nervous now that major game makers like Obsidian, Mojang, and Bethesda are all now Xbox Game Studios). A major sticking point for the PlayStation company has been that the deal would give Microsoft power over Call of Duty, though Xbox head Phil Spencer has now told The Verge that Microsoft will keep making the games for Sony’s consoles as long as the company is selling them. However, it’s possible the decision was the result of pressure from the public and Sony, after PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said that Microsoft only offered to extend Sony’s existing contract by three years, which could have resulted in 2028’s installment being an Xbox-exclusive.

The fight between the two companies has gotten ugly at times. Microsoft accused Sony of paying developers to keep their content off of its Game Pass service, and just this week Sony argued that Microsoft’s master plan was getting everybody to move over to Xbox before jacking up prices. Both companies will likely reiterate these arguments — and more — to whichever regulators come knocking. And at the moment, it feels like that list is only getting bigger.

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