Microsoft has emerged as the victor in the legal battle surrounding its acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard. The ruling, made by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, stated that the preliminary injunction requested by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was unwarranted.
The FTC had previously requested an injunction, arguing that the proposed acquisition could significantly reduce competition within the gaming industry. However, the court ruled that the FTC failed to convincingly demonstrate this concern. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley stated that Microsoft has publicly and officially committed to ensuring that Call of Duty will continue on PlayStation for a decade, on par with Xbox, and has struck a deal to bring the popular title to the Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard, estimated at a staggering $68.7 billion, will put the tech giant in control of Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King. This would give Microsoft ownership of some of the most popular gaming franchises, including Call of Duty, Warcraft, and Overwatch.
Despite this landmark ruling, Microsoft’s path to acquiring Activision Blizzard isn’t entirely clear just yet. The company still has to face the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Microsoft is scheduled to present its case to the CMA on July 28. Furthermore, the FTC retains the right to appeal against Judge Corley’s ruling, provided it does so before July 14.
The Communications Workers of America, an organization involved in unionization efforts within Activision Blizzard, has applauded the court’s decision. The group praised the rejection of the injunction and Microsoft’s pledge to labour neutrality within Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, expressed gratitude for the swift and thorough ruling. He expressed hope for a similar approach in other jurisdictions, saying, “We are grateful to the Court in San Francisco for this quick and thorough decision and hope other jurisdictions will continue working towards a timely resolution.”
Today’s ruling marks a significant step towards Microsoft’s historic acquisition and will be closely watched by stakeholders in the global gaming industry.