No ‘substantial’ settlement talks between US FTC and Microsoft over Activision – lawyer

No ‘substantial’ settlement talks between US FTC and Microsoft over Activision – lawyer

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law, asked a judge to block the deal in early December, arguing it would give Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive access to Activision’s games, leaving Nintendo consoles and Sony’s PlayStation out of the picture. Group Corp.

FTC attorney James Weingarten in a brief pre-trial telephone hearing said there were no “substantial” settlement discussions underway between the two sides.

Microsoft argues the deal would benefit gamers and gaming companies, offering to sign a legally binding consent decree with the FTC to supply “Call of Duty” games to rivals, including Sony, for a decade.

The case reflects the heavy-handed approach to antitrust enforcement taken by the administration of US President Joe Biden. However, antitrust experts say the FTC will face an uphill battle to convince a judge to block the deal, due to voluntary concessions Microsoft has offered to allay fears it could dominate the gaming market.

Michael Chappell, the FTC administrative judge, will rule on the settlement after hearings scheduled for August 2023. Either party can then appeal to the same FTC commissioners who voted on the challenge, then with an American Court of Appeals.

The deal is under scrutiny by the European Union, which must decide by March 23 whether to allow or block the deal.

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