The FTC, not the Justice Department, will examine Microsoft's buyout of Activision-Blizzard for instances of possible anti-trust.
The Federal Trade Commission will be scrutinizing the Microsoft-Activision deal. The convergence of the two tech giants would see Microsoft becoming the third most lucrative video games company in the world behind Sony and Tencent while locking down billion-dollar properties like Call of Duty in the process.
Sources tell Bloomberg that FTC regulators plan to closely investigate whether or not the deal constitutes anti-trust or unfair advantage. If its determined that Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard will materially harm competition (for example, Sony could lose over $260 million a year if Call of Duty were kept off of PlayStation platforms), the FTC could sue to block the acquisition similar to how the commission is trying to block NVIDIA's takeover of ARM.
Microsoft has a history of platform exclusivity and keeping games from PlayStation hardware in an effort to bolster its Game Pass service.
In 2021, Microsoft successfully acquired ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, and added a plethora of franchises to its ranks. Shortly after it was confirmed that Bethesda Game Studios' new game Starfield would be exclusive to Xbox Series X and PC platforms, and kept off of PlayStation hardware. This exclusivity is believed to apply to The Elder Scrolls 6 too.
If the deal goes through, sources say Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation at least until 2025. After that, though, Microsoft could keep the megaton franchise exclusive to Xbox hardware.
Sony has made a recent acquisition of its own that will help weather any exclusivity Microsoft lays out. Sony has acquired 100% shares of Bungie, the creators of Halo and Destiny, for $3.6 billion.
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