This past Tuesday, July 11, a federal judge ruled against the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request to the District Court of Northern California to issue a preliminary injunction against Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The FTC filed a brief notice the next day indicating that it intended to appeal that decision to the Ninth Circuit.
According to the court, the FTC failed to show that it is likely to prove that the merger would result in a substantial reduction in competition that would harm consumers in the video game market. The decision revolved around issues such as whether the acquisition would limit access by Microsoft’s competitor, Sony, to Activision’s immensely popular video game, Call of Duty.
This is yet another setback for the FTC in its efforts to stop mergers in big tech, an industry that the agency clearly has prioritized for policing. Earlier this year, the agency abandoned its fight against Meta’s acquisition of a virtual reality startup. FTC Chair Lina Khan has continually argued that big tech’s influence has led to monopolistic behavior and harm to consumers. Spokesman for the FTC, Douglas Farrar said in a statement that “in the coming days [the agency will] be announcing [its] next step to continue to preserve competition and protect consumers.”
By Alyse F. Stach and Kayley B. Sullivan