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Judge sides with Microsoft in FTC injunction, unlocking final Activision battles

Enlarge / Attorneys carrying boxes arrive to court in San Francisco, California, US, on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. A judge has ruled that the FTC’s reliance on the PlayStation chief’s testimony was unpersuasive, while Microsoft and Activision’s efforts will help avoid market concentration. (credit: Getty Images)

A federal judge in San Francisco today denied the Federal Trade Commission’s motion to halt Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, ruling that the FTC was unlikely to prove that the merger would “substantially lessen competition.”

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley’s decision (PDF) is heavily redacted in sections covering the company’s assets and performance in “AAA Content,” “Exclusive Content,” and “Cloud Gaming Subscription Services,” among others. Segments of those redactions were likely seen in earlier filings, which were poorly redacted with a marker and revealed key financial figures.

The FTC’s motion for a temporary restraining order and injunction was filed in an attempt to disrupt the deal before its purported July 18 deadline. The FTC had already initiated an administrative action to investigate the deal’s effect on gaming markets, but it petitioned the US District Court for Northern California that Microsoft and Activision “may consummate the Proposed Acquisition at any time.”

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