Activision Blizzard | FTC says Starfield and Redfall exclusivity is ‘powerful evidence’ for blocking deal

Activision Blizzard FTC

In its latest filing, the Federal Trade Commission points to Microsoft withholding Bethesda titles from PlayStation as a further reason to block the firm’s proposed Activision Blizzard deal.

The epic rumble between Microsoft and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues with a new filing in which the FTC says, among other things, that making Starfield and Redfall exclusive to Xbox is ‘powerful evidence as to Microsoft’s incentives’ regarding the Activision Blizzard deal.

Last week, the FTC sought an injunction against Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard, which was granted. Both the FTC and Microsoft will now argue their case at a hearing scheduled for tomorrow (22nd June).

Ahead of the hearing, the FTC has laid out its key arguments against the takeover. Much of the document is heavily redacted in parts where it cites confidential documents provided to the FTC by Microsoft, but some of the arguments come out loud and clear. In a section entitled ‘Microsoft’s decision to make ZeniMax games exclusive is powerful evidence of incentive to foreclose’, the FTC points to Microsoft’s recent takeover of ZeniMax, the company which owns Bethesda, saying that Microsoft’s actions speak louder than its words.

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The filing says that Microsoft’s argument that it wants to avoid “infuriating gamers” by making Activision games like Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox falls flat, pointing out that “a ZeniMax executive publicly apologized to fans who were frustrated by Microsoft’s decision to make new ZeniMax games exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem”.

The section concludes by saying: “Microsoft’s ZeniMax decision is powerful evidence as to Microsoft’s incentives here and should give this Court significant pause when considering Defendants’ assurances that ‘Microsoft intends to operate Activision similarly to other recent acquisitions…'”

The nearly $69 billion Activision Blizzard deal has already been blocked by the UK’s competition authority, a judgement that Microsoft is appealing. But time is running out for Microsoft: the deadline for completion of the deal is 18th July, and Microsoft faces having to pay a reported $3 billion termination fee if the deal isn’t sewn up by that date.

Read more: Blocked: Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal. What happens now?

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