Will Microsoft turn us into an Nvidia bis? Because yes, as we specified in February, when the case was investigated by the famous anti-competitive agency in the United States, The Activision-Blizzard-King takeover file is in the hands of an organization known for giving no gift to multinationals. The Federal Trade Agency, the FTC, unlike the Justice Department, is seized when the risk of monopoly is greater. It is especially she who has responded exactly one year ago to the matter of Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm for DKK 40 billion.
Competition issues for Microsoft
While many agencies are still investigating this historic acquisition, the largest in video game history, The FTC announced that it opposed the combination of the two groups, whose merger seemed to have taken place since the announcement in the minds of executives and planned for early 2023. But despite its seduction operation, Microsoft did not convince. Advocating for the diversity of the catalog, helped by friends from the studio such as Strauss Zelnick, the Xbox manufacturer even announced make concessions to convince Sony of the merits of their takeover. Especially by agreeing to sign an agreement to leave Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years. But no, the FTC doesn’t want to hear anything.
According to information revealed by the agency recently, the regulator would still have a stranglehold Microsoft’s takeover of Zenimax, whose promises were not kept. But Starfield or The Elder Scrolls 6 will actually be exclusive to Xbox (and PC), the FTC explains, confirming what everyone has known for years, which could therefore be disadvantageous to competitors:
Microsoft’s past behavior provides insight into likely plans to [la société] (…) despite the assurances it may give regarding its objectives […] In March 2021, Microsoft acquired ZenixMax, parent company of the popular developer and publisher Bethesda. During the antitrust investigation, Microsoft assured the European Commission that it has no interest in making ZeniMax titles exclusive. But shortly after Europe’s approval, Microsoft published his decision to make several ZeniMax games unreleased, including Starfield, Redfall, and The Elder Scrolls 6.
So far, Brazil, Serbia and Saudi Arabia have already approved the project without reservations. But the CMA in Great Britain or the European Commission have serious doubts and may follow the FTC’s decision at the end of their second phase of the investigation. For the US government agency, the main problem remains the acquisition of the flourishing Call of Duty license, historically linked to Sony. In addition, the business model of Xbox Game Pass considered too competitive for Nintendo and PlayStation.
An appointment that gets delayed?
Microsoft was quick to defend itself, issuing a statement indicating that there is a big difference (which we can understand by the way) between the existing licenses, which have a history on other consoles and which will not be exclusive, versus productions shaped for Xbox like Starfield or Redfall. As for the rest of Bethesda’s schedule, Microsoft assures that it will look at it on a case-by-case basis.
The following? According to Axios, this block currently does not allow the government to prevent the takeover, only to postpone it, at best until the summer of 2023. On the European side, a decision could only come in the spring of 2023. The prospect of getting hands on ABK at the start of 2023 is getting further and further away. In a letter published by the still managing director Bobby Kotick (who is waiting for the takeover to leave the structure), the latter comes out of his silence for the first time in many months:
Lthe allegation that this agreement is anti-competitive does not correspond to the facts and we believe that we will win this challenge. The competitive landscape is changing, and quite simply, a Microsoft-ABK combination will be good for players, good for employees, good for the competition and good for the industry. Our players want choices, and that’s exactly what we’re giving them. We believe these arguments will prevail despite a regulatory environment driven by ideology and misconceptions about the technology industry.
We therefore remain safe within Microsoft. As much as against the accusations of harassment that ended with major checks to wipe the slate clean…