The US Federal Trade Commission will undertake an antitrust review of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of scandal-plagued video game giant Activision Blizzard, reported Bloomberg on Monday.
Microsoft last month announced plans to buy Activision Blizzard in an all-cash deal valued at $68.7 billion. The deal, expected to close within the next 18 months, would make Microsoft the world’s third-largest video game maker and give it control of popular franchises including the war simulation series Call of Duty and the fantasy behemoth World of Warcraft.
The FTC will reportedly oversee the review instead of the Justice Department, which also has authority over antitrust enforcement. It review will look at whether combining Microsoft, which makes Xbox consoles, and Activision Blizzard could harm competition by limiting rivals’ access to major games, according to Bloomberg.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard could face tough scrutiny. In January, the FTC and the DOJ’s antitrust division said they would rewrite guidance for mergers, noting that US industries had become concentrated in recent years and that a surge in merger filings in 2020 and 2021 threatened to worsen the situation. FTC Chair Lina Khan has also said enforcing antitrust laws in digital markets requires a different lens and suggested the agency consider whether workers and other businesses can be harmed by antitrust violations, a shift from the view that antitrust enforcement focuses solely on consumer harms.
The FTC declined to comment. Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.