WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Trade Commission argued in federal court Thursday for a preliminary injunction to temporarily block Microsoft’s acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard.
“If this deal is completed, the combined company … will likely have the ability, an incentive, to harm competition in various console, subscription service and cloud (for games) related markets,” the company said. FTC attorney James Weingarten in the government statement. opening arguments on the first day of a five-day evidentiary hearing.
The FTC argues it needs a judge to stop Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from completing their $69 billion merger until the agency’s in-house court decides whether the combination harms competition in the industry. video game industry.
The FTC says the combination would give Microsoft’s Xbox video game console exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony Group Corp’s PlayStation out in the cold.
“I think you’ll see that every piece of evidence shows that it makes sense for Xbox to make these Activision games available to as many people as possible on as many platforms as possible,” Microsoft attorney Beth Wilkinson said in her arguments. of opening, adding that if an injunction is granted, it could lead to a three-year administrative procedure that would kill the case.
On Friday, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, Microsoft CFO Jamie Lawver, former director of product management for Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service Dov Zimring, and Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO , Jim Ryan, will appear by video deposition.
READ: Microsoft and US regulators head to court over $69 billion Activision deal
The resolution of the US lawsuit is one of many key antitrust battles Microsoft and Activision have fought around the world to finalize the deal. Microsoft’s bid to acquire video game maker “Call of Duty” was approved by the European Union in May, but British competition authorities blocked the takeover in April.
The FTC argued that the deal, which would be the largest for Microsoft and the largest in the history of the video game industry, would give Microsoft “the ability and increased incentive to withhold or degrade content from Activision in a way that significantly lessens competition.”
Microsoft said the deal would benefit both gamers and game companies, and offered to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to supply “Call of Duty” games to rivals for a decade.
READ: Microsoft insists video game merger won’t hurt competition
The hearing is scheduled to continue until June 29. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick are among next week’s witnesses.
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