The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now demanding additional documents from Microsoft. The regulator wants more information related to the company’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
On March 14, the FTC filed a new motion to compel Microsoft and Activision Blizzard to provide additional documents (spotted by Axios’ Stephen Totilo).
According to the filing, the companies have refused to produce any information for 24 requests and only shared a “smattering of self-selected documents” in response to the remaining eight requests. So the FTC now wants that information ahead of the trial over the Activision Blizzard deal.
- The regulator requested documents related to crossplay features. Specifically, it wans to learn more about Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax and its decision to make Bethesda and other titles exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem despite previously promising not to.
- The FTC wants documents related to all games that Microsoft has made exclusive or has considered making exclusive to see if the company intends to remove Activision Blizzard content from other platforms.
- The FTC wants information “related to [redacted], the code name for Microsoft’s next generation gaming ecosystem.” This is especially interesting because it is unclear what the regulator means by this next-gen gaming ecosystem. The motion only notes that it is part of Microsoft’s “forward-looking strategy for its console, subscription, and cloud gaming businesses.”
Here’s where the FTC asks for more on their next-gen plans (which could be this gen, for all we know. Not sure how the FTC defines next-gen; like, are they the kind of people who put Wii U and Switch in the same gen?)
TAR = technology assisted review pic.twitter.com/iDwwrszSsw
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) March 15, 2023
- The regulator also requests documents related to “making Activision content available on competing products and services” after the deal closes. This includes all those 10-year agreements that Microsoft recently made with Nintendo, Nvidia, and other companies.
The FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard in December 2022. It is now investigating the merger and collecting documents ahead of the trial scheduled for August 2.
The $68.7 billion deal is also subject to regulatory pressure in Europe. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority refused to approve it unconditionally, proposing several remedies such as buying Activision Blizzard without Call of Duty. Earlier this month, Microsoft rejected that divestment proposal, arguing that the merger would benefit players and bolster competition.
The European Commission has also yet to rule on the Activision Blizzard deal. As part of its own investigation, it is collecting documents and trying to hear from other parties, including PlayStation. The latter has been one of the most vocal opponents of the deal, with SIE president Jim Ryan reportedly saying, “I don’t want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.”