FTC lawsuit against Microsoft enters pre-trial hearings today while the merger is approved in Chile


The antitrust lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission against Microsoft is taking its first plodding steps forward. A judge confirmed last week that the case’s first pre-trial hearing would begin today, January 3rd, as the court begins to determine whether the multi-billion dollar deal between Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard would stifle competition and keep the Call of Duty franchise out of the hands of other gaming platforms.

Legal experts analyzing the case believe that the FTC faces an uphill battle, however. Andre Barlow, an antitrust lawyer at Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC, says that Microsoft’s offer of a 10-year deal with Sony for the COD franchise, which the company has tied down for other platforms, could be enough of a concession to let the deal go through, citing three prior cases where such remedies were accepted by judges.

Meanwhile, Chile’s Fiscalía Nacional Económica has allowed the deal to go forward in that country, believing that Microsoft provided enough evidence that it would not stop competition and saying that COD’s impact in Latin American markets is “comparatively less than in other regions of the world.” As an example, the FTE cites Chilean consumer survey results that suggest the number of players who would switch consoles to play the shooter series is low.

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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