Last month, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority blocked Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard, only for the European Union’s European Commission to approve the deal last week. Now, all eyes are on the Federal Trade Commission, whose impending decision will decide if the merger ultimately goes through — and it really is a matter of if, not when.
The CMA and EU’s diverging rulings show the two paths the Microsoft–Activision Blizzard deal could take in the future — and demonstrates how the FTC’s decision could come down to the lens through which it views the potential acquisition. If the FTC focuses on how the deal will affect the gaming industry, it is almost certain to approve it. But if it views the deal as Microsoft’s play to dominate the future of cloud computing, then the merger could be in jeopardy.
At this point, it could very well go either way. But the European Commission and FTC work closely together and are rarely divided on such large rulings, making last week’s news an encouraging sign for Activision Blizzard executives.