First Hearing In Microsoft Activision-FTC Showdown Scheduled For January 3
The hearing, which is scheduled for January 3, could be the first step in a long and arduous legal process.
The first pre-trial hearing in the blockbuster trial between the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft over its attempted purchase of Activision Blizzard is set for January 3. The case, which will likely determine whether or not the largest gaming merger in history will actually go through, will also have profound effects on the industry at large, regardless of the ultimate outcome. The hearing is scheduled for 3 PM ET / 12 PM PT, and you can listen to it live.
As revealed in the initial complaint filed by the commission, the FTC alleges that the transaction would result in Microsoft consoles having exclusive access to Activision's games, which would lessen competition in the video game space. The FTC's complaint particularly focuses on Call of Duty as a "key product franchise," and one that is important to Microsoft's strategy.
In response, Microsoft stated that its purchase of Activision is part of an attempt "to become more competitive in the expanding global industry." Microsoft's response also focuses on the mobile studios owned by Activision Blizzard, particularly Candy Crush Saga developer King, saying that Xbox currently has "next to no presence in mobile gaming." Microsoft's response also notes that the company has offered to bring Call of Duty to more consoles than ever before, including the Nintendo Switch. Given that Microsoft has publicly vaunted its offer to keep the shooter franchise on PlayStation for at least a decade, this isn't a surprise.
As a whole, it's difficult to know how the case will play out at this early juncture. Under the Biden administration, FTC chair (and antitrust scholar) Lina Khan has shown a willingness to pursue antitrust cases against big tech firms, which some have labeled as risky, including the New York Times. However, it remains to be seen how they will play out.
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