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FTC: No "substantive" settlement talks under way with Microsoft

US regulator's attempt to block $69 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition centres around August trial

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Federal Trade Commission has said there are currently no "substantive" settlement talks between the US government body and Microsoft over the latter's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

During a brief pre-trial hearing via telephone yesterday, FTC attorney James Weingarten said neither side had engaged in significant discussions over a possible settlement that would negate the need for a trial, Reuters reports.

The hearing followed the FTC's filing of a lawsuit last month designed to block Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Among other things, the Commission is concerned about Microsoft's track record of acquiring studios and making their games exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem, citing Bethesda's upcoming sci-fi RPG Starfield as a prime example.

The worry is that making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox will harm competition in the games space, particularly for PlayStation.

Microsoft, however, has offered to make the best-selling shooter franchise available to Sony devices for the next decade, promising the same for Steam and Nintendo.

The case between Microsoft and the FTC is set to begin with hearings in August, after which FTC administrative law judge Michael Chappell will rule on whether or not the deal can go through.

Both sides will be able to appeal against this ruling, first to the FTC commissioners who filed the original legal complaint and later to the US appeals court.

It's still possible Microsoft and the FTC could reach a settlement before the hearing, although games lawyer David B. Hoppe recently told GamesIndustry.biz that commissioners "have indicated that they are skeptical of the value of such settlements."

Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision also faces further scrutiny from the European Commission and the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

Last week, Chile's regulator approved the deal, joining Brazil and Saudi Arabia on the list of markets that have given it the all-clear.

You can learn more about the regulatory hurdles the deal faces in our extensive primer.

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James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor

Editor-in-Chief

James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He is based in Essex and has been a B2B games journalist since 2006