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It's Time To Talk About Microsoft Winning Its Case For Activision Blizzard

In early 2022, Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Activision Blizzard — the company responsible for mega-hit franchises like "Diablo," "Call of Duty," and "Overwatch" — for the princely sum of 68.7 billion dollars. Almost immediately, gaming fans started freaking out on all sides, raising questions of what this could mean for the future of the industry. Which gaming series would be changing hands? Would the "Call of Duty" franchise be restricted to Microsoft-owned platforms going forward? Would this create an unfair monopoly in the marketplace? All of these questions and more have been at the forefront of a case between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission, which sought to block the deal from going through. Today, it was announced that Microsoft has officially won that battle, and now it looks like nothing will stand in the company's way of completing the acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

As reported by The Verge, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has ruled: "Microsoft's acquisition of Activision has been described as the largest in tech history. It deserves scrutiny. That scrutiny has paid off." Corley notes that not only has Microsoft promised to allow Sony to continue putting "Call of Duty" games on its consoles, but the series will also be coming to the Nintendo Switch. "For the reasons explained," Corley continued, "the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to 'Call of Duty' and other Activision content."

As one might expect, the overall response to this ruling has been incredibly divisive.

Microsoft celebrates the ruling and looks toward the future

A great number of fans and industry insiders were celebrating the news when it broke this morning. Among them was Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who reiterated Judge Corley's comments about giving gamers a greater range of choice in the future. "We're grateful to the court for swiftly deciding in our favor," tweeted Spencer. "The evidence showed the Activision Blizzard deal is good for the industry and the FTC's claims about console switching, multi-game subscription services, and cloud don't reflect the realities of the gaming market." According to Spencer, the deals that Microsoft has put in place will ensure that players will have no problem accessing their favorite titles in the future, despite worries to the contrary.

Others reacted to the news with the internet's greatest forms of currency: fan-cams and memes. Some posted videos hyping up the long road from Microsoft's announcement of the merger to today.

Others got a good laugh out of the latest developments. One of the more popular posts reacting to the court ruling came from Peter Ovo, who shared a clip from "Terminator 3" that had been edited to depict Xbox carrying Activision Blizzard to safety in the midst of a deadly fight with PlayStation loyalists.

It's worth noting that this isn't the only news to come from the Microsoft camp today in regards to the merger. Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith announced that the tech company is also working on reaching an agreement with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, which has also attempted to block the deal with Activision Blizzard in Europe. The CMA's efforts will be paused while the two groups continue negotiations outside of the court.

Others are still concerned by the ruling against the FTC

In the wake of the court's decision in favor of Microsoft, PlayStation fans have continued to express their concerns over missing out on Xbox-exclusive content in the future. There may be agreements in place for the "Call of Duty" franchise, but the worries seem to persist regarding other Activision Blizzard properties. Until Microsoft releases a definitive road map detailing its plans for the future of Activision Blizzard, Sony fans will likely continue to have doubts about the deal.

Meanwhile, it appears that Judge Corley's decision is far from the final word on the matter. In an email shared with Bloomberg, FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar indicated that the agency may seek to appeal Judge Corley's decision and once again block Microsoft's purchase from going through. "We are disappointed in this outcome given the clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services, and consoles," wrote Farrar. "In the coming days we'll be announcing our next step to continue our fight to preserve competition and protect consumers." It seems likely that this battle will resume before the merger is completed, despite how things may look at the moment.

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