The chances of Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard have received a significant boost after a US judge rejected a request from US regulators to block the deal. Microsoft, the maker of Xbox, had stated that it would focus on resolving concerns in the UK following the US win. If the merger goes through, it would be the largest deal of its kind in the gaming industry’s history.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had sought to block the deal, arguing that it would harm gamers and reduce competition by granting Microsoft the power to deny rivals access to Activision’s games. However, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled in favour of Microsoft, stating that the FTC had not demonstrated a high likelihood of success in its case.
The ruling in the US suggests that the deal is likely to proceed as planned. The merger has already been approved by the European Union, although an appeal to block the merger in the UK is currently underway.
Microsoft president Brad Smith expressed gratitude for the quick decision and stated that the company would now focus on addressing concerns in the UK. Both Microsoft and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have agreed to put litigation on hold while they work on resolving the concerns raised by the CMA, primarily related to the cloud gaming market.
The outcome is seen as a significant victory for Microsoft, which has been investing heavily in gaming content to compete with market leaders PlayStation and Nintendo. Activision Blizzard, the target of the acquisition, is responsible for popular titles such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, and also owns King, the mobile games developer behind Candy Crush.
While this US ruling is a positive development for Microsoft, it does not mark the end of the process. The FTC can still appeal the decision, and there is a separate administrative court process challenging the merger. The FTC spokesperson expressed disappointment and stated that they would announce their next steps in the coming days to continue the fight to preserve competition and protect consumers.