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FTC moves to block Microsoft’s Activision-Blizzard buyout

The US' top antitrust regulatory agency has sued to stop Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of publisher Activision-Blizzard, the largest in company history

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The US Federal Trade Commission has filed a suit to stop Microsoft’s pending $69 billion deal to acquire games giant Activision-Blizzard, creating the most significant obstacle to the acquisition to date. The FTC contends that the consolidation could allow Microsoft to keep popular FPS games like Call of Duty: Warzone off competitors’ consoles, and give the company an unfair advantage in new areas such as cloud gaming and subscription services.

“Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets,” Holly Vedova, the FTC’s Bureau of Competition director, in a news release reported by the Washington Post.

Antitrust regulators in the United Kingdom and the European Union have also raised concerns over the deal, but the FTC’s suit represents the biggest challenge it’s faced yet. The deal would give Microsoft ownership of Activision, Blizzard, and mobile developer King, which makes the wildly popular Candy Crush games.

The proposed plan to buy Activision-Blizzard is the largest such acquisition in Microsoft’s history, but it follows a spree of successful acquisitions that notably included Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, Arkane, id Software, Tango Gameworks, and more.

The FTC’s suit will be heard in an administrative court.