Microsoft President reiterates company’s confidence on Activision deal amid FTC lawsuit

December 16, 2022

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing Microsoft to block its proposed $69 billion acquisition of game giant Activision. Despite this, the software company remains optimistic through President Brad Smith, who recently said they “have huge confidence” in the case.

In this week’s interview with Agence France-Presse, the Microsoft executive underscored the company’s advantage that strengthens its position to close the deal. According to Smith, the fact that Sony owns the bigger share of the game console market and that Microsoft will continue allowing Activision games on PlayStation will promote competition.

“If you really ask what will promote competition, what will bring more opportunities both for game developers and gamers, we strongly believe that this kind of acquisition where we have more first-party titles and are committed to making them available for on Sony PlayStation for the next decade, is good for competition, good for consumers,” Smith said. “So I feel good about our prospects [of] going to an administrative law judge.”

Smith’s argument points to the persistent claim of Sony and other regulators that Microsoft could soon keep Activision’s games away from its competitors. Despite this, it can be recalled that the Redmond company recently offered a series of concessions to everyone concerned, including presenting concessions to the FTC, handing Nintendo a 10-year licensing deal for Call of Duty (COD), and offering the same to Sony and even the rights to put COD on PlayStation Plus.

In its statement regarding its complaint, the FTC stressed how Microsoft couldn’t be trusted due to the past actions it implemented after closing the $7.5 billion Zenimax deal. The agency claimed the company “assured the European Commission (‘EC’) during its antitrust review of the ZeniMax purchase that Microsoft would not have the incentive to withhold ZeniMax titles from rival consoles.” It added that after closing the transaction, Microsoft decided to make ZeniMax titles like Starfield, Redfall, and Elder Scrolls VI exclusive to its gaming service. This would be a good perspective to boost the FTC’s argument, but the European watchdog denied the US agency’s claims, saying Microsoft didn’t make such alleged commitments.

Prior to Smith’s statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also expressed his confidence that the Activision Blizzard deal would be approved, saying, “Of course, any acquisition of this size will go through scrutiny, but we feel very, very confident that we’ll come out.” In November, however, Nadella hinted that the company is also open to the possibility of not being able to close the transaction. Despite this, the CEO stressed how the company “will be in gaming going forward” due to its decades of work and experience.

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