Microsoft’s seemingly never-ending attempt to buy Activision Blizzard for a ludicrous sum of money fleetingly appeared like it was going to be resolved yesterday.
The United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had attempted to block the purchase on competition grounds, but a San Francisco judge ruled against the body. Microsoft’s repeated self-depreciation had apparently done the trick.
The EU had already rubber-stamped it, and that left the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as the only holdout. A holdout that quickly buckled when Britain realised it was on its own.
So that’s that, then? Not so fast. The FTC has today filed an appeal to drag the whole thing on that bit longer.
“We’re disappointed that the FTC is continuing to pursue what has become a demonstrably weak case, and we will oppose further efforts to delay the ability to move forward,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith in response.
Activision Blizzard executive Lulu Cheng Meservey backed up these fightin’ words. “The facts haven’t changed. We’re confident the US will remain among the 39 countries where the merger can close. We look forward to demonstrating the strength of our case in court – again.”
The beef that regulators have with the deal is that Microsoft would get too big and that would ultimately be bad news for gamers. To try and reassure them that Microsoft just wanted the best for its customers and not the steady revenue stream that comes from being a monopoly, the firm promised to keep its Call of Duty games on other platforms for at least a decade.
After that time, things get a bit less clear though. And Microsoft pointed out that ten years is plenty of time for Sony to develop its own Call of Duty rival which doesn’t sound too collegiate (and also begs the question of why Microsoft didn’t in the 22 years since the first Xbox launched.)
It’s hard to believe Microsoft would pay NZ$100 billion for a company not to make its games exclusive, and that’s the approach it seems to have taken with Bethesda. Both Redfall and the upcoming Starfield have no PS5 release in mind. That said, it has continued to support Minecraft on other platforms since buying Mojang, so it’s not completely out of the question.
We’ll find out over the next decade. Assuming this interminable court case ever ends.