The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will challenge Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard, despite already losing the trial to block the deal.
On Tuesday, the agency issued an order to resume its review of the merger, meaning it will continue to challenge the deal.
“The Commission has determined that the public interest warrants that this matter be resolved fully and expeditiously,” the FTC said in a filing. “Therefore, the Commission is returning this matter to adjudication.”
Bloomberg was the first to report on the FTC move.
The sale of Activision to Microsoft has had a rocky path, but seemed to finally clear through its biggest hurdle when a U.S. court of appeals in July denied the FTC’s request to halt the deal. The move by the FTC throws another potential wrench in the transaction, and is notable because the agency typically drops its challenges after it loses in federal court.
The Microsoft-Activision acquisition is set to be the largest gaming deal in the U.S. to date. For the FTC, this raises antitrust concerns.
“The FTC continues to believe this deal is a threat to competition,” FTC spokesperson Victoria Graham told Cord Cutters, adding that the agency’s current focus is the federal appeal process.
Microsoft said it still intends to close the deal by October 18. “We have full confidence in our case and the deal’s benefits to gamers and competition,” a Microsoft spokesman told Cord Cutters News.
“We’re focused on working with Microsoft toward closing. How the FTC uses limited taxpayer dollars is its decision,” Activision spokesperson Joseph Christinat told Bloomberg.
Microsoft has scooped up a number of gaming companies over the last few years, including Bethesda Game Studios, the creators behind Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Starfield. If Microsoft adds Activision Blizzard to its portfolio, the agency fears it will result in too much power concentrated in the tech company.
Last week, a large collection of emails was released to the public as a result of the FTC’s lawsuit to block the acquisition. leaked online. One internal Microsoft email from 2020 said Xbox head Phil Spencer was interested in buying Nintendo, Steam owner Valve, and Warner Bros. Discovery’s network of game studios. The emails followed reports from the trial that Spencer was also interested in purchasing Sega and Square Enix, the creators of Sonic and Final Fantasy, respectively.