Federal judge declines to block Microsoft–Activision Blizzard deal 

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has declined to block Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of video game company Activision Blizzard.

Regulators are seeking to prevent the deal on the grounds that it will hurt competition, but the judge maintained that the FTC did not sufficiently prove that possibility and noted that the evidence pointed to increased consumer access to Activision content.

A five-day San Francisco court hearing that ended late last month showcased testimony by the CEOs of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, both of whom pledged to keep Activision’s Call of Duty game available to those who play it on consoles that compete with Microsoft’s Xbox.

The FTC had asked Corley to issue an injunction blocking Microsoft and Activision from closing the deal temporarily before the FTC’s in-house judge can review it during an August trial; however, both companies suggested that such a delay would force them to abandon the takeover agreement signed almost 18 months ago.

Corley said the FTC achieved a victory for consumers through the proceedings because of the promises Microsoft made to some rivals as it sought to protect the Activision deal; the FTC’s lead trial attorney on the case disagreed that the “hastily agreed to” contracts would protect the market.