Activision & Microsoft: After the FTC’s last-ditch effort fails, Activision is expected to join Microsoft.

There’s nothing left to stop the Call of Duty maker from joining Xbox in the U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The Federal Trade Commission’s last-ditch attempt to stop Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been rejected by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, potentially clearing the way for the largest gaming merger ever to proceed after a more than 12-month legal odyssey.

Prior to a deadline of July 18, the FTC attempted to delay the acquisition while appealing a Northern District of California decision that sided with Microsoft. It was the antitrust agency’s final opportunity to avert the historic $69 billion merger that would have resulted in the expansion of Xbox with games like Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty.

In order to corner the market, regulators said that the federal court had disregarded evidence suggesting that Microsoft would have a legitimate motivation to make those properties exclusive to its console and cloud gaming platforms. In response, Microsoft accused the FTC of adopting delaying strategies and understating a hefty $3 billion breakup fee that Microsoft would have to pay to Activision if the acquisition fell through for any reason.

Although the Ninth Circuit will continue to hear that appeal, it dismissed the FTC’s request to halt the merger until that decision was made, allowing Microsoft to finalize its transaction on July 17.

Since the UK is the only nation to have so far blocked the deal, the road to this point has been long and winding. The merger had been rejected by that nation’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the grounds that it would give Microsoft an undue advantage in the burgeoning cloud gaming business.

But after the FTC’s initial legal setback earlier this week, the CMA declared it was resuming talks with Microsoft about fresh approaches to the antitrust disputes. It now has an August deadline for approving the agreement, indicating that it is willing to accept the tech giant’s most recent concessions.

It now appears like Microsoft’s startling acquisition of one of the largest game publishers in the world is about to become a reality. While nothing is definite until it is final, this development has the potential to fundamentally alter the video game industry. Or perhaps Xbox subscribers will simply receive a ton more free games on Game Pass. Only time will tell.

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