Gamers shocked as US moves to block major Xbox merger


XBOX has been dealt a major blow in its plans to acquire games publisher Activision Blizzard, as the FTC has filed to block the merger for at least the next two weeks. 

Microsoft announced its intention to purchase Activision Blizzard for $69billion (£55billion) in January 2022, and the ongoing attempts to pass regulatory scrutiny have been fraught with setbacks. 

The UK’s CMA blocked the deal in the UK, citing the potential for unfair competition in the game streaming sector, as Microsoft would have too much power there with its Game Pass streaming. 

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard floated the idea of pulling out of the UK as a result of the decision, which would effectively ban Call of Duty, Overwatch 2, Diablo 4, and Candy Crush Saga in the country. 

While the deal has been passed by most other regulatory bodies, it’s still being examined by regulators in Australia and New Zealand, and Microsoft is trying to appeal the UK’s decision. 

In a new twist to the story though, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now filed for an injunction against Microsoft in an attempt to stop the deal from going through. 

According to The Verge, the FTC filed for an injunction in court to prevent Microsoft from closing the deal for two weeks, after reports suggested the company was planning to rush the deal through. 

As a result, the FTC’s case against Microsoft, which it brought against the company to better examine the ramifications of the deal, will likely be accelerated, which Microsoft says is a good thing. 

Microsoft Vice Chair Brad Smith said: “We welcome the opportunity to present our case in federal court. We believe accelerating the legal process in the US will ultimately bring more choice and competition to the market.” 

The court case had previously been set to have a hearing on August 2, 2023, but the deal has a deadline of July 18, leading many to believe Microsoft would be ramping up its attempts soon

If successful, the acquisition would bring hundreds of games to Xbox Game Pass, and secure exclusive content for Xbox Series X|S consoles. 

Written by Oliver Brandt on behalf of GLHF.