Microsoft has responded to the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit seeking to block the software giant’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, publisher of the popular “Call of Duty” video game franchise.
The FTC, earlier in December after a 3-1 vote said the mega merger would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.
Microsoft, in a Dec. 22 legal filing, countered that the acquisition would in fact expand consumer access to Activision’s portfolio of video games.
“The acquisition of a single game by the third-place console manufacturer cannot upend a highly competitive industry,” Microsoft wrote in the filing. “That is particularly so when the manufacturer has made clear it will not withhold the game. The fact that Xbox’s dominant competitor has thus far refused to accept Xbox’s proposal does not justify blocking a transaction that will benefit consumers.”
That competitor is Sony Interactive Entertainment, whose PlayStation 5 has been the top-selling video game console since the the PlayStation brand inception. Sony contends the deal would favor the Xbox console and Xbox Game Pass streaming service over PlayStation, putting the latter at a competitive disadvantage.
Bloomberg earlier this month reported that Microsoft was willing to let Sony sell the “Call of Duty” franchise titles on its PlayStation streaming service. While the FTC trial is set to take place in 2023, the merger is also getting antitrust pushback from regulators in the U.K. and the European Union.
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