The FTC has reportedly softened its stance on Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard and there is now a higher probability that it will approve the deal if Microsoft makes some concessions to the regulator.
Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been scrutinized by a number of global regulators, including the European Commission, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, and the US Federal Trade Commission, for quite some time now.
The FTC started handling its antitrust review back in February this year, although little was known about how the investigation was going.
In late November, reports suggested that the regulator was considering filing an antitrust lawsuit to block the $69 billion takeover as it was reportedly concerned that Activision might give Microsoft "an unfair boost in the video game market." However, according to recent news, the US watchdog has apparently softened its stance on the merger.
As reported by the New York Post which cites sources familiar with the situation, previously only one of the four members of the commission supported the deal but, most recently, they were joined by one more commissioner. According to a former FTC Chairman, William Kovacic, this makes the possibility that the US regulator would approve the deal much higher – he now evaluates it at 70%.
In addition, an FTC insider told the outlet that some of the commissioners "might be more comfortable with a settlement" if Microsoft makes some concessions to the regulator instead of trying to block the deal.
Earlier, it was reported that the tech giant was ready to make concessions to regulators in order to help its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard to go through, with one of those concessions reportedly being a 10-year licensing deal with Sony.
In a new article written for the Wall Street Journal, the vice chairman and president of Microsoft Brad Smith confirmed that the company offered Sony a deal that would allow keeping the Call of Duty series on PlayStation for a decade.
"The main supposed potential anticompetitive risk Sony raises is that Microsoft would stop making 'Call of Duty' available on the PlayStation. But that would be economically irrational. A vital part of Activision Blizzard’s 'Call of Duty' revenue comes from PlayStation game sales," he wrote. "That’s why we’ve offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new 'Call of Duty' release available on PlayStation the same day it comes to Xbox."
Smith also noted that Microsoft is open to making the same commitment to other platforms and is prepared that this would be required by regulators in the US, UK, and European Union.