The U.S. government and Microsoft Corp. are not in “substantial” settlement talks to resolve a legal dispute over Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of game maker Activision Blizzard, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawyer reportedly said yesterday.
The FTC asked a judge early last December to block the deal on the grounds that it would give Microsoft’s home TV console Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, sidelining Nintendo consoles and Sony Group’s PlayStation.
FTC attorney James Weingarten said in a brief pre-trial telephone hearing that the two sides are not currently engaged in “substantive” settlement talks.
Microsoft argued that the deal would benefit both players and the game company, and offered to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to provide Call of Duty games to competitors, including Sony, for a period of 10 years.
The case reflects the tough stance the U.S. government is taking on antitrust enforcement. But antitrust experts say the FTC will face an uphill battle to convince a judge to block the deal because Microsoft has voluntarily made concessions to ease concerns that it could dominate the gaming market.
FTC Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell will rule on the deal after a hearing scheduled for August 2023. Either party can appeal to the challenging commissioners and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The deal also faces review by the European Union, which has until March 23 to decide whether to approve or block the deal.