The US Federal Trade Commission has announced today that it's seeking to block Microsoft's attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard, stating that the deal would "harm competition in high-performance gaming consoles and subscription services by denying or degrading rivals’ access to its popular content".
In a quote, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition (Holly Vedova) suggested that Microsoft "has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals", and the official FTC statement followed up on this:
"The FTC pointed to Microsoft’s record of acquiring and using valuable gaming content to suppress competition from rival consoles, including its acquisition of ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda Softworks (a well-known game developer)."
"Microsoft decided to make several of Bethesda's titles including Starfield and Redfall Microsoft exclusives despite assurances it had given to European antitrust authorities that it had no incentive to withhold games from rival consoles."
The statement went on to suggest that Activision's strategy of "offering its games on many devices regardless of producer" could change if Microsoft takes hold of the company:
"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."
Microsoft president Brad Smith has responded to the news on Twitter this evening, announcing that the company has "complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present it in court".
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