EU Commission rebuts FTC claims regarding blocking of Microsoft – Activision Blizzard deal

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The European Union (EU) Commission has responded to one of the main arguments cited by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to oppose Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

According to a public complaint released by the FTC on Thursday, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard was “reasonably likely to substantially restrict competition or tend to create a monopoly.” The EU Commission has apparently corrected itself based on the accuracy of certain allegations from FTC against Microsoft.

The EU Commission carried out an extensive antitrust assessment during Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media, which was finalized in 2021. Microsoft assured the commission during this examination that it “would not have the motivation to restrict ZeniMax titles from competitor consoles,” according to the FTC’s complaint.

The FTC then claimed that once the EU Commission approved the deal, Microsoft swiftly revoked this promise. Microsoft specifically said that Starfield, Redfall, and Elder Scrolls 6 would be “Microsoft exclusives” as defined by the FTC.

The EU Commission has stated that as part of the antitrust inquiry, Microsoft made no such guarantee in a statement to MLex Market Insight.

The commission stated more clearly that it approved the Microsoft/ZeniMax transaction unconditionally. They further stated that the acquisition would not have created any competition concerns.

While reviewing the FTC’s claims, the EU Commission stated that even if Microsoft made games by Zenimax Media an exclusive, it would not amount to any significant impact on other competitors as they already have many more game titles to compete with.

These two claims about “Microsoft going back on their previous commitment and creating an anti-competitive market” were the basis of FTC’s complaints against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The FTC’s attempt to obstruct Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard remains unaffected by the EU Commission’s declaration. Although Microsoft still can use the statement in court if FTC decides to go that route.

Currently, a court case is unlikely to happen until June or August 2023. As of now, Microsoft has to get approval from the EU Commission first.