The US Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday it has filed an antitrust lawsuit against software giant Microsoft Corp to challenge its acquisition of game developer Activision Blizzard.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has dealt with pressure arising from competitiveness concerns. In 1998, the US Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company, and following that lawsuit, the company changed some practices related to the Windows operating system business.
Microsoft had announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard for $ 68.7 billion last January, hoping that the deal would be completed by June 2023. The deal was under pressure from Microsoft’s competitors in the gaming market, such as Sony Corporation Japanese.
Microsoft has repeatedly stated that it will not completely dominate gaming if the deal goes through, and has pledged to provide popular Call of Duty games on rival companies’ gaming platforms.
“We continue to believe that this transaction will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers,” Brad Smith, vice president, and director at Microsoft said in a statement. He added that the company had been committed from day one to addressing competition concerns, including having submitted proposed concessions earlier this week to the Federal Trade Commission.
By contrast, said Holly Vidova, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Competition, “Microsoft has already shown that it can and will block content from its gaming competitors.” “Today we seek to prevent Microsoft from taking control of a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in fast-growing game markets,” she added.
Indeed, Microsoft offers exclusive games for its Xbox gaming platform, and last October, Phil Spencer, the company’s chief gaming officer, indicated that Sony also has a special set of exclusive privileges, while Microsoft has made available games owned by the company. Like, Minecraft on other platforms.
Spencer argued that it is important for more people, not fewer, to access the games the company owns, especially as it seeks to attract subscribers to its Game Pass service, which provides access to hundreds of games.
Federal Trade Commission confirmed that Microsoft has precedents in this matter, including the ZeniMax acquisition deal in 2021.
The Federal Trade Commission said that Microsoft turned ZeniMax games, such as Starfield and Redfall, into exclusive games after telling European antitrust regulators that it would not prevent users from accessing games on competing platforms for the Xbox.
On Wednesday, Spencer announced that Microsoft had struck a deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty games to the Japanese company’s gaming platforms over the next 10 years.
According to reports, Smith has already offered Sony a 10-year deal that will see future Call of Duty games released for the PlayStation at the same time as the Xbox.