The US Trade and Consumer Protection Agency (FTC) has filed an antitrust lawsuit against software giant Microsoft's acquisition of video game provider Activision Blizzard. The approximately 69 billion dollar (65.4 billion euro) acquisition would give Microsoft too much market power and harm competition in the game console business such as the Xbox, the FTC announced yesterday in Washington.
The companies stand by the billion dollar deal. "We welcome the opportunity to present our case in court," Microsoft executive Brad Smith said in a statement to US media. His group continues to have "full confidence" in the takeover. From day one, Microsoft addressed competition concerns and offered concessions to the FTC.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard announced the mega deal in January. Microsoft wanted to secure popular video games from Activision Blizzard such as "Call of Duty", "Overwatch" and "Candy Crush". The software group that operates the Xbox gaming platform already has other game studios with well-known titles such as "Doom" and "Minecraft" under its roof and would significantly strengthen its market position with its largest takeover to date.
Activision under intense public pressure
The deal was agreed at a time when Activision Blizzard was under intense public pressure, including allegations of discrimination and harassment. Although CEO Bobby Kotick was also heavily criticized, he initially remained at the helm of the game company.
Regarding the FTC lawsuit, Kotick said in a memo to employees, quoted by Bloomberg, "I believe we will win this challenge."
Experts had already expected resistance from the FTC to the takeover. The multi-billion dollar deal is also under investigation by competition watchdogs in Britain and the European Union. As recently as November, the EU Commission expressed fears that the takeover could limit Microsoft's access to games for competitors and their consoles. The conditions for users could also deteriorate as a result.