FTC sues to block Microsoft-Activision Blizzard $69B merger

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday sued to block Microsoft’s planned $69 billion takeover of video game company Activision Blizzard, which is the parent company of Middleton-based Raven Software, saying it could suppress competitors to Microsoft’s Xbox game console and its growing games subscription business, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The FTC’s challenge could be a test case for President Joe Biden’s mandate to scrutinize big tech mergers. The commission voted 3–1 to issue the complaint after a closed-door meeting, with the three Democratic commissioners voting in favor and the sole Republican voting against.

The FTC said it was filing the complaint through its administrative process rather than taking the case to a federal court. An administrative law judge it set to hear evidence but not until August 2023, according to the complaint.

Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, signaled in a statement Thursday that the company is likely to challenge the FTC’s action. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a message to employees Thursday that the FTC’s action “sounds alarming, so I want to reinforce my confidence that this deal will close.”