On January 18, 2022, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, one of the world’s most-valuable gaming companies, was announced. In April 2023, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal on concerns that the deal could “alter the future of the fast-growing cloud gaming market, leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years,” a decision that Microsoft appealed to a Competition Appeal Tribunal. A few months later, in July 2023, as previously reported in Minding Your Business, the FTC’s challenge to the deal in the United States fell short, leaving the UK as the only competition authority preventing the closing of the deal.
In the latest of a string of losses for antitrust enforcers, the Northern District of California resoundingly denied the FTC’s bid to enjoin the Microsoft-Activision merger, allowing the deal to proceed a week in advance of its upcoming merger termination date. In a case that tested the bounds of antitrust law in vertical integration deals, Presiding Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley found “the record evidence points to more consumer access,” rather than showing signs of reduced competition. Federal Trade Commission v. Microsoft Corporation, et al.