After days of testimony, some fun quips back and forth on the internet, and a LOT of spilled information that was meant to be redacted, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has ruled on the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) request for a preliminary injunction to stop the Microsoft merger with Activision Blizzard and denied said request.
This doesn't mean that Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard is TOTALLY clear, though. The FTC still has an antitrust case filed against the tech giant, but this denial does allow Microsoft to move forward with the planned closure of the sale now instead of having to wait until the resolution of the antitrust case. This is obviously great news for Microsoft and it comes prior to the deal's self-imposed July 18th deadline.
In the decision, Judge Corley ruled, "...the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore DENIED."
There's still the sticking point of the company having been rejected in the UK to sort out, too. Something Microsoft has already appealed, and Microsoft and the CMA have agreed to pause things to try and come to an arrangement. Despite that snag, the company could decide to close the deal outside of the UK or attempt to reach a negotiated arrangement with UK legislation.
Our statement on today's decision: pic.twitter.com/jRDD8PhBeT
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) July 11, 2023
In a tweet, Microsoft President Brad Smith said, "We're grateful to the court in San Francisco for this quick and thorough decision and hope other jurisdictions will continue working towards a timely resolution."
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer went more in-depth on Twitter calling the merger "good for the industry" and saying the FTC's views "don't reflect the realities of the gaming market."
1/We're grateful to the court for swiftly deciding in our favor. The evidence showed the Activision Blizzard deal is good for the industry and the FTC’s claims about console switching, multi-game subscription services, and cloud don’t reflect the realities of the gaming market.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 11, 2023
Bobby Kotick, ABK's CEO, said the decision "will enable competition rather than allow entrenched market leaders to continue to dominate our rapidly growing industry."
The FTC does have the option to appeal today's ruling, but has to do so by July 14th as the temporary restriction on merging expires at that time due to today's ruling. To stop the merger, the FTC would need the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay by that time.
About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous gaming websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.
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