Judge grants FTC’s request for temporary block of Microsoft’s Activision deal

A federal judge Tuesday granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request to temporary bar Microsoft from buying video game developer Activision. File Photo by Phil McCarten/UPI | License Photo

June 14 (UPI) — A U.S. federal judge late Tuesday granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request to block Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard amid an ongoing review of the deal.

Microsoft, the maker of video game console Xbox, announced its plans to buy the Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch developer in January 2022 for some $69 billion.

But the deal has been confronted by the FTC, who argues against it on antitrust grounds, saying it would afford Microsoft exclusive access to Activision titles to the detriment of not only competitors Nintendo and Sony but consumers.

The FTC in December filed an administrative complaint against the merger and amid fears the deal could be consummated in days, the federal agency asked the court on Monday to block it as the federal commission’s in-house review moves forward.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila for the Northern District of California ruled in the FTC’s favor in order to maintain the status quo while the complaint is pending.

In the ruling, Davila says the block on the merger will remain in place until at least the end of the fifth business day after the court rules on the FTC’s preliminary injunction request.

The court also set an evidentiary hearing on the preliminary injunction for June 22 and 23. Microsoft and Activision have until Friday to submit their motion of opposition and the FTC will have until noon Tuesday to reply.

Following the FTC filing on Monday, both Activision and Microsoft signaled that they were ready to present their case.

“This benefits everyone,” Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith tweeted, saying the filing would “accelerate the decision-making process.”

“We always prefer constructive and amicable paths with governments but have confidence in our case and look forward to presenting it,” he said.