Who has the better lawyers, Microsoft or the FTC? The former, it seems, as U.S. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has denied the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction, effectively allowing the Xbox and Windows maker to move forward with its planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard in a deal worth $69 billion. The FTC has until July 14 to appeal Corley’s decision, but Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which objected against the deal in April, is now saying that it’s willing to listen to Microsoft’s proposals to resolve antitrust concerns.
“The FTC has not shown it is likely to succeed on its assertion the combined firm will probably pull Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation, or that its ownership of Activision content will substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets,” Corley wrote.
“We’re grateful to the court in San Francisco for this quick and thorough decision and hope other jurisdictions will continue working towards a timely resolution,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said. “As we’ve demonstrated consistently throughout this process, we are committed to working creatively and collaboratively to address regulatory concerns.”
“We are disappointed in this outcome given the clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services, and consoles,” FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar said in an email. “In the coming days we’ll be announcing our next step to continue our fight to preserve competition and protect consumers.”
In a decision, Scott Corley denied the FTC’s preliminary injunction, which sought to block the deal on the grounds it would harm gamers. At a June hearing, the FTC argued Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision would harm competition since the combined company would have an incentive to withhold key titles, like top-selling shooter game Call of Duty, from rival consoles and subscription services.