One of the biggest gaming stories of this year has been Microsoft’s announcement about the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, which came hot on the heels of the company’s many many stories of corruption and a toxic work environments. However, the Federal Trade Commission is apparently split over how to proceed over it.
Ordinarily, the FTC panel that governs this sort of thing has five commissioners that make decisions on whether or not an acquisition can go through. However, one of them, Noah Joshua Phillips, resigned back in October, and his successor is yet to be appointed, leaving it at a 2-2 deadlock.
Microsoft has already made many acquisitions of gaming studios and publishers over the past few years. Various competitors for Microsoft (most of all Playstation) have brought up concerns over how much Microsoft will have a monopoly over video games should the deal go through. Playstation is particularly scared that Microsoft will make Call of Duty exclusive to the Xbox, depriving Sony of a huge amount of profits.
However, Microsoft is prepared to offer various concessions in order for a deal to go through, including things like a 10-year licensing deal for Call of Duty on Playstation consoles. While Microsoft has said in the past that they won’t make games like Call of Duty exclusive to the Xbox, Sony (considering they do that sort of thing very often) apparently isn’t convinced.
Microsoft has downplayed concerns by saying that even after the acquisition of Activision, the company’s market share will still be lower than Tencent and Sony, and that it hopes the acquisition will foster more competition in the gaming market.
Most gamers, however, are likely expecting Microsoft to force Blizzard to clean up their act, considering the numerous stories told about the studio’s toxic work culture, a far cry from the old, well-regarded Blizzard Entertainment, most of the blame for which has been laid at CEO Bobby Kotick’s feet.
If Microsoft is willing to make concessions about its acquisition of Activision, hopefully the acquisition can go through even if Microsoft has to take a financial hit for a while, but we’ll have to wait for Microsoft’s own decision to see for sure.