FTC Reportedly Reviewing Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Acquisition

Microsoft's plans to buy Activision Blizzard will be reviewed by the FTC.
Microsoft's plans to buy Activision Blizzard will be reviewed by the FTC. / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

The Federal Trade Commission will lead the review of Microsoft's planned deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion as the agency assumes a more aggressive stance on mergers in the tech space, per a Bloomberg report.

The FTC typically works with the Justice Department to determine which of the two will investigate mergers for potential anti-trust violations. It has decided to lead this review itself, probing the deal for its potential to harm consumers, rival game companies and partners, according to a source "familiar with the matter" who spoke to Bloomberg anonymously.

Microsoft and the FTC declined to comment on Bloomberg's report.

FTC Chair Lina Khan has advocated for harsher anti-trust reviews, especially among tech company mergers. She has already led the FTC to sue to block two major takeovers: Nvidia's proposed purchase of semiconductor company Arm Ltd., and weapons company Lockheed Martin's deal to buy rocket manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.

Khan's efforts also include a plan to rewrite merger guidelines with the Justice Department that would subject mergers to closer scrutiny and more aggressive regulation in an effort to protect against higher prices and lower wages.

The FTC's investigation of the Microsoft-Activision deal will focus on the former's console and PC manufacturing capabilities and the latter's game development and publishing. Regulators will likely focus on whether Microsoft owning Activision Blizzard would harm other gaming companies by limiting their access to major Activision Blizzard franchises.

How many of Activision Blizzard's properties would become Xbox- and PC-exclusive remains unknown, but Microsoft reportedly plans to honor deals already in place that would keep Call of Duty on Sony consoles at least through 2023.