FTC preliminary injunction blocked…so where does the Activision Blizzard deal go from here?

Robert Collins

The American FTC’s injunction to halt Microsoft and Activision from proceeding with their merger has been blocked by a judge today. And while the news is a great victory for Microsoft, it is not the end of the road for the Redmond company’s endeavor to acquire one of the biggest video game publishers in the industry. So what’s next?

The FTC trial itself is set to get underway in August. Interestingly, the documentation released pertaining to today’s decision read in part,

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. 

FTC chair Lina Khan in Office
FTC chairperson Lina Khan

Does this provocative analysis indicate that a Microsoft triumph against the FTC is a forgone conclusion? Only time will tell, but in the meantime the FTC is entitled to an appeal of today’s decision through July 14, so it is very possible that we still haven’t heard the end of this chapter of the ABK deal story.

And then there is the CMA, which has already ruled against the merger. Microsoft of course will appeal the decision, and those proceedings will start July 24—six days after the deal’s July 18 termination date. The CMA’s move to block the deal in the U.K. has been met with much controversy, and has led some to question whether the move could backfire as some are speculating that Microsoft could simply withdraw its Xbox Cloud Gaming services there if the deal ultimately goes through elsewhere.

At this point it is apparent that the next several weeks are going to be decisive in the eventual outcome of the Activision Blizzard deal.