Activision CEO confident "this deal will close" despite FTC suing Microsoft

Warzone 2
(Image credit: Activision)

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick reckons Microsoft's pending $69 billion acquisition of the publisher will still go through even though the US Federal Trade Commission has moved to block the deal with a lawsuit.

The publisher's Twitter shared an internal statement sent by Kotick earlier today addressing the news. "This means they will file a lawsuit to block the merger, and arguments will be heard by a judge," Kotick said of the FTC. "This sounds alarming, so I wanted to reinforce my confidence that this deal will close. The allegation that this deal is anti-competitive doesn't align with the facts, and we believe that we'll win this challenge." 

Kotick adds that "a combined Microsoft-ABK will be good for players, good for employees, good for competition, and good for the industry. Our players want choice, and this gives them exactly that." As ever, it's unclear how putting Activision Blizzard's many franchises under Microsoft's umbrella would lead to greater consumer choice, unless we're just talking about putting them on Xbox Game Pass.

Kotick and Activision Blizzard remain embroiled in multiple lawsuits and countersuits, with Activision now suing California's Civil Rights Department after it sued the publisher for alleged sexual misconduct and discrimination, as Axios reports. Kotick, in particular, has been accused of ignoring cases of harassment, and in May suffered a new lawsuit claiming, among other things, that the Microsoft acquisition he negotiated allowed him to "escape accountability." 

In a follow-up tweet, Activision also linked to a Substack post penned by Jed Boatman, senior vice president of litigation, regulatory, and public policy law at the company. The post is just hours old but seems to have been written before today's news; it only mentions that the FTC is "considering whether to file a lawsuit". 

In spite of mounting scrutiny from the likes of the FTC and the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which is still waist-deep in its own investigation, the post maintains that "our engagements with global regulators have been constructive, productive, and generally quite positive." 

Boatman also reiterates the argument that "making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox doesn’t make good business sense," dismissing concerns that, as the FTC seems to fear, Microsoft will make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox.

"Microsoft has spent the last year promising global regulators, tens of millions of players, and competing consoles and platforms that they won’t do that," Boatman writes. "Do people really think that Microsoft – one of the world’s most respected companies – would risk its reputation and relationships to go back on that promise?" 

Of course, if it did own Activision, Microsoft could make Call of Duty more appealing on Xbox without actually withholding it from other platforms, most notably PlayStation, but Microsoft has thus far been reticent to discuss some of the finer points of its much-vaunted openness. As the FTC argues in its full complaint

"The Proposed Acquisition would change Activision’s incentives, because Microsoft stands to gain significant profits from additional gamers purchasing Xbox consoles or Xbox Game Pass. Hence, the combined firm will be incentivized to disadvantage Microsoft rivals by withholding Activision content from, or degrading Activision content on, rival consoles and subscription services to promote sales of Microsoft’s products."

Microsoft said it will also bring Call of Duty to Nintendo, a platform with no modern or meaningful connection to or impact on the franchise, as a show of its must-vaunted pro-competitive stance. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.