FTC Investigates Microsoft’s Proposed Acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Microsoft is currently trying to close its proposed $69 billion deal to purchase Activision Blizzard, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is requesting more insight into the agreements made with both Nintendo and NVIDIA.[0] The FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard in December 2022 and is now investigating the merger and collecting documents ahead of the trial scheduled for August 2.[1]

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported that Microsoft has declined to provide internal paperwork concerning its arrangements and interactions with third parties apart from NVIDIA, Nintendo, and Sony.[2] As such, the tech giant shouldn’t be permitted to rely on these agreements without producing the requested documentation.[3] The document requests that Activision Blizzard submit documents that had not been provided in the earlier stage of proceedings, including information on the significance of cross-play, elements that influence customer purchases, and other kinds of data.[4]

This court filing was requested by the FTC to the judge presiding over the case.[5] A request to produce documents related to Microsoft's numerous requests was submitted in a filing. This includes documents related to its “next generation gaming ecosystem”, its plans for future ZeniMax exclusivities, its agreement to bring Call of Duty to PlayStation and Japanese cloud gaming company Ubitus, as well as documents related to exclusivity of content Microsoft acquired from ZeniMax and exclusivity of content Microsoft proposes to acquire from Activision.[6]

The FTC is also seeking documents from Activision pertaining to the relevance of cross-play to consumers, what factors affect customer purchasing decisions, documents relating to purported cannibalization of purchased games by subscription services, and whether consumer behavior differs between buy-to play users and subscription service users.

It seems the FTC is not only interested in Microsoft’s current deals with Nintendo and NVIDIA, but also their plans for future games from Zenimax (Bethesda).[3] This includes whether future games, like The Elder Scrolls 6 and Fallout 5, would also be exclusive to Microsoft platforms.[7] Should the judge overseeing the case grant the FTC's request, Microsoft must furnish the requested documents.[8]

0. “EU delays decision on approving Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard until May 22” Neowin, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.neowin.net/news/eu-delays-decision-on-approving-microsofts-purchase-of-activision-blizzard-until-may-22/

1. “FTC wants more documents from Microsoft, including info about its ‘next-generation gaming ecosystem'” Game World Observer, 16 Mar. 2023, https://gameworldobserver.com/2023/03/16/ftc-microsoft-documents-zenimax-next-gen-gaming-ecosystem

2. “FTC Demands Microsoft Share Details on 10 Year Deals With Nintendo and NVIDIA” GLITCHED, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.glitched.online/ftc-demands-microsoft-share-details-on-10-year-deals-with-nintendo-and-nvidia

3. “FTC Wants More information Regarding Microsoft’s Agreements with Nintendo and NVIDIA” Wccftech, 15 Mar. 2023, https://wccftech.com/ftc-wants-more-information-regarding-microsofts-agreements-with-nintendo-and-nvidia/

4. “FTC lawyers want more info on Microsoft's 10 year deals with Nintendo and Nvidia | VGC” Video Games Chronicle, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/ftc-lawyers-want-more-info-on-microsofts-10-year-deals-with-nintendo-and-nvidia

5. “FTC Needs Specifics on Microsoft Deal With Nintendo and Nvidia” The Nerd Stash, 15 Mar. 2023, https://thenerdstash.com/ftc-needs-specifics-on-microsoft-deal-with-nintendo-and-nvidia

6. “The FTC reveals Microsoft is already working on next-gen Xbox” KitGuru, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.kitguru.net/gaming/matthew-wilson/the-ftc-reveals-microsoft-is-already-working-on-next-gen-xbox/

7. “The FTC want to know Microsoft's exclusivity plans and also make Epic pay $245m back to players” TheSixthAxis, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.thesixthaxis.com/2023/03/15/ftc-microsofts-exclusivity-plans-epic/

8. “The FTC says Microsoft is holding back documents it requested for Activision Blizzard deal” Neowin, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.neowin.net/news/the-ftc-says-microsoft-is-holding-back-documents-it-requested-for-activision-blizzard-deal/

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