Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Acquisition Likely To Be Scrutinized By Regulators, Says Legal Expert

Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a massive shift in the gaming industry that would place huge franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft under the Xbox umbrella. The continued consolidation in the industry has raised questions among the community of antitrust violations and if that could impact the deal.

GameSpot spoke with lawyer Richard Hoeg, who said these potential pitfalls are unlikely to scuttle the acquisition altogether. However, the deal will certainly attract the close attention of the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), and regulators could request some changes that make the acquisition look different than initially planned. To start, he said, Microsoft is likely to argue that the overall gaming market is so broad that this level of consolidation doesn’t pose a risk to competition.

“That said, in the US both the FTC and DOJ have expressed more willingness to evaluate such deals than they have in the recent past (see Facebook and Instagram/WhatsApp), and may be looking carefully at more narrow markets that may be affected outside of ‘all games,'” Hoeg said. “Of particular note, Microsoft has made clear its intentions to use this deal to buoy Game Pass and cloud offerings which, as they stand today, are a much more narrow market that a motivated regulatory body might decide is harmed by acquisitions of this size.”

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Author: Steve Watts