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FTC votes to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision in antitrust lawsuit

Yahoo Finance legal correspondent Alexis Keenan details the FTC's latest decision to attempt to block Microsoft's acquisition deal with Activision-Blizzard.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: First, let's get to some big breaking news on an acquisition which Seana just told you about. The government, FTC, suing to block Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Alexis Keenan here with the details. Alexis, this was a huge ruling on one of the biggest acquisitions in US history.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Yeah, a big one. $69 billion deal that was proposed in January, but the FTC now saying in a vote from its commissioners-- 3 to 1 was the vote. Republican commissioner holding out and saying, no, I don't want to go forward with this. But the FTC ultimately saying, we are going to try to block Microsoft, which owns Xbox, from acquiring Activision Blizzard, and especially its franchise, "Call of Duty," right? That's the big ticket item.

And the concern here is that Microsoft, once it owns that franchise, that it will exclude other gaming companies from that content. Historically, that content has been available across different consoles, including Nintendo. Now, Microsoft has already said it would agree to enter a legally binding contract to offer the franchise "Call of Duty" to Nintendo, so that seeming to not make the FTC happy here.

Now, the FTC, they mentioned three different areas, three different markets that they're concerned about if this deal goes down. They say gaming consoles, for one. They also say subscription content. That's been a big growing sector for Microsoft and for other companies, as well as cloud gaming. So it's those three markets that they say could be harmed for competition if Microsoft is allowed to go through with this deal.

They also point to Microsoft's prior acquisition of gaming developer Bethesda Software-- Softworks, rather-- in 2021. And the FTC, what they say is that Microsoft assured EU antitrust regulators that they would not have that content, in that acquisition, become exclusive to Microsoft. But instead, they chose otherwise. So they seemed to be going across the pond to say, let's look at the history of their activity there. We don't trust that this would actually go forward as Microsoft says it will.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, in the last couple of days, we saw Microsoft make a deal that would bring "Call of Duty" to Nintendo for 10 years. And the thought was that was a show that we will not harm competition. And here's a quote now from the FTC. We seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to, quote, "harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast growing gaming markets." This will have major implications on the gaming sector. Alexis Keenan, good stuff. Thanks so much.