Judge Rejects FTC’s Appeal To Pause Microsoft-Activision Deal

'Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare' (Image: Activision)

'Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare' (Image: Activision)

On July 14, a United States appeals court in northern California ruled against a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appeal to temporarily halt game company Activision Blizzard from being purchased by Microsoft.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s decision removes one of the last remaining barriers to the $69 billion purchase of the Call of Duty franchise developer.

“We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s swift response denying the FTC’s motion to further delay the deal,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “This brings us another step closer to the finish line in this marathon of global regulatory reviews.”

The  FTC asked for the delay to take the merger before an internal FTC judge in August.

The agreement itself expires on July 18. This allows either Activision or Microsoft to walk away from the largest industry deal in video game history. However, nothing is stopping them from reaching a new agreement on an extension.

The expansion deal still needs approval across the pond in Britain. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) became the first major regulator to block the acquisition back in April. The CMA voiced concern about the influence the merger would have on cloud gaming competition.

Microsoft then submitted a changed “detailed and complex” proposal for another attempt at approval. Afterward, the CMA extended its deadline for a final decision to August 29.

In addition, Nintendo and Microsoft have agreed to allow the rival conditional access to popular FPS Call of Duty once the deal closes. The company argues that contracts like this are evidence that it’s not using the acquisition to gain monopoly status for its own subscription service and platform.

Despite the loss, the FTC has not dropped its investigation into the deal. The courts may have denied an appeal, but the story is far from over.

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