Microsoft's acquisition of Activison Blizzard

Satoru

Limitless
Founder
20 Jun 2022
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10,505
Hi all,

I see that we have a lot of threads discussing this topic, and think we should probably focus in having everything consolidated under one thread. I think ad-hoc threads as news come to light are ok, but they should eventually be merged here if our kind staff @BloodMod @TubzGaming agree. Previous threads wouldn't need to be added as they have served their purpose.

Adding the Microsoft/Zenimax merger document here as it has information relevant to this.

With all that said... Here's a brief summary of where we are. For record keeping sake, here's the SEC filing:


18th of January 2022 - Microsoft announces their intent on acquiring ABK for the sum of $68.7B, subject to regulatory approval.


6th of July 2022 - CMA, UK's regulatory entity, announces that they are investigating the deal. As of September 15th, the CMA has moved the acquisition enquiry into Stage 2


6th of October 2022 - Brasil's Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica announces they have approved the acquisition


8th of November 2022 - The European Comission opens in-depth investigation into the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft


23rd of November 2022 - Politico reports that the Federal Trade Commission is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover


8th of December 2022 - FTC Seeks to Block Microsoft Corp.’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc.


Additional information - FTC's in-house trial to begin on the 2nd of August 2023.


A simple timeline can be found below, as well as a timeline for future events
  • 2022/01/18 - Microsoft announces intent to acquire Activision Blizzard
  • 2022/07/06 - CMA announces they are investigating the deal
  • 2022/09/15 - CMA moves enquiry into Stage 2
  • 2022/10/06 - Brasil's CADE approves the deal
  • 2022/11/08 - European Comission opens in-depth investigation
  • 2022/11/23 - Politico reports that the FCC is likely to challenge the deal
  • 2022/12/08 - FTC Seeks to Block Microsoft Corp.’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc.
  • 2023/01/18 - First cut off for acquisition completion, which can be extended
  • 2023/03/01 - Statutory deadline for CMA's decision
  • 2023/04/18 - Second cut off for acquisition completion, which can be extended
  • 2023/04/26 - Deal prohibited by the CMA
  • 2023/07/18 - Final cut off for acquisition completion, which may or may not be extended (the paperwork is unclear here)
  • 2023/08/02 - FTC in-house trial to commence
FTC vs Microsoft PDF repository - Includes redacted and unredacted documents
 
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Lord Mittens

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1 Jul 2022
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Serbia approved it yesterday I believe, if we are adding all of them or just the majors?
 

KnittedKnight

Gaming Sage
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13 Jul 2022
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Only two that matter. FTC and EU. FTC more so.

If the EU were to break rank I would assume the geopolitical arena would shift considering all the current grievances as well but looking at the make up of the EU top heads and current elites in the top EU countries... that's way too improbable, extremely improbable in a probability scale.

Best the plebs may potentially get imo is a PR show of a slap of the wrist against MS while dressing a "compromise"..... cause "uncompetitive behavior" is after all not allowed. :ROFLMAO:

The Japanese have their choice, just like they had it in the 80s with the Plaza Accords. At least in this instance, there are more choices back home - plenty of publishers to pluck should the political signal be given. Of course, accommodating Nintendo will be the bigger issue back home.

The Chinese and Tencent are surely watching in amusement.
 
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24 Jun 2022
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@KnittedKnight I've seen a few people in certain spots (mainly ResetERA) basically fearmongering about China's influence to drive a divide between Europe and America in order to screw up the acquisition for Microsoft.

I don't say it's fearmongering because it can't happen: I think parties related to the CCP could try doing something like that just for the larger geopolitical ramifications it could have. But "fearmongering" because a lot of the people bringing that point up are very transparent and only doing it to (oddly) parade a patriotic signal to the FTC and EU to let Microsoft buy ABK. That is literally the only reason I've seen some of them bring up wider geopolitics & China into the equation. It's similar to when some of those same folks were saying how the FTC declining approval of the deal would make Democrats look bad and give Republicans a chance to counter them.

Again, it's not that there aren't people in those positions who would do such a thing, it's the fact that the people mostly bringing that up are using it as a boogeyman to argue why MS should acquire ABK and why regulators should just let them get ABK. The biased tone in the reason & manner they bring up these sort of adjacent political points to the acquisition discussion are so obvious 😂.

But hey Sony should just "be grateful" they even get anything if the deal goes through. Tongues of undeserved arrogance.
 

KnittedKnight

Gaming Sage
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13 Jul 2022
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Red scare is an old tried and true propaganda tactic that works on fear to misdirect and manufacture consent. Nothing new here, you'll always find it in discourse by bad faith actors hiding their true intent... whether the bogeyman is China, Russia, local poltical partisanship or some Alien Race hell bent on crushing "freedom™". Gaslighting in practice, feasting on ignorance. When the BS is a half-truth, it works best, as is the case.

Politics, geopolitics and big business are tied by the hip. That is to say, there is a political angle at play here encompassing geoeconomics.

MS ventures as the sole American player in the premium console market are going nowhere and have been going nowhere for a decade after sinking billions on the venture. However beyond being a player in the market with the "Xbox brand" and checking the Japanese; Microsoft's gaming ventures are part of their strategy in tending and caring for the ever lasting garden that is Windows OS - and it's critical. The Windows OS is the go-to productive OS for game development. MS as a corporation and its main product, Windows OS, is one of the main pillars of American tech supremacy.

In console gaming the Japanese have proven to be resilient, and as the saying goes: "they just keep coming". The Japanese don't necessarily need Windows in gaming to succeed - neither does anyone, except MS, and by extent the U.S as a nation. And so there lies the problem. Meanwhile China keeps rising and its gaming Giants keep growing, smartly opportunistic and at a consistent pace, not enough to disturb the status quo but gaining critical mass with each passing year - they too don't need MS or Windows. The Americans see that, they're not stupid. This is not about "fair competition", has never been about that. It's about who sits at the top and who's an economic threat to sit at the very top. The Japanese (and its corporations) in that sense play within the American garden and abide by the masters rule so they're allowed to play "freely"... so long as they know who's boss. The Chinese do not - as they should, if only for self-respect alone, but there a million reasons why.

Since Gaming is a critical sector in the, so far, mostly silent battle for tech supremacy it's a no brainer to deduce that it would be strategically damaging for the U.S for MS to bow out and leave the Japanese to uncontested rule of the console market space which eventually will draw the Chinese to fill the vacuum in some form (a window of opportunity), and Japan is not a serious strategic competitor vs. both, China or America. Obviously, American big tech corps would also try to fill the vacuum with better efforts than those made so far (Amazon, META, Google, Apple or Valve) but the risk vis a vis a foreign hostile rival hitting the jackpot at a nascent point is not a risk worth contemplating - and so is the conclusion that can be drawn by the decisions made. The obvious option for MS was to double down hard at this critical juncture and so they have ("ALL IN ON GAMING"). That keeps the critical imperative of tending the Windows garden in gaming alive, and in a significant manner. Within MS these acquisition moves are seen as an overall strategic investment in the company despite whatever the fuck the feeble idiotic investors crying about Xbox's moneypit may think. Changing the game to your benefit with Gamepass, and the big publisher acquisitions has but one sole goal, to attain strong competitive and differentiated advantage vs. it Japanese rivals. The final intent being a bigger, solidified market share - in other words, market leadership. If you can't win the game by the established rules, well change them. This is the long game being played here. As you can see with Apple IPhone's or Android, you don't necessarily need MS in play, in gaming - that is to say, the less you need Windows for something, the less the long term viability of the product and the greater the chances of creating windows of opportunity for competitors - ultimate fear being China - with the money, the ambition and the strategic imperatives to displace the U.S (and not just in this specific sub-sector of big tech). The Chinese are not looking for nor are content being a junior partner. They're their own civilization with a long, long history.

Thus from a geopolitical standpoint MS continuing to be a bulwark by presence and reach in Gaming allows not only for the continued viability of Windows OS as the go-to productivity OS for game development (including Mobile) but also lessens the room for maneuver by "hostile" strategic competitors elsewhere, beyond America's borders, in gaming or in productivity OS. Way too many benefits in staying than for a exit out to occur. How this ties to the FTC and EU regulatory bodies is more of a local formal roadblock considering the unprecedented nature in gaming of a console player buying back2back Publishers - and the biggest one there is yet. The Japanese know they're getting fucked but what can they do... they're an American protectorate after all, they have no strategic freedom, nor are fully sovereign - that's what you sign up for when being part of the club - in this case, you gotta take one for the big guy once again as the junior partner. Plaza Accords always illustrate this "allied" relationship in full technicolor. Do as I say, not as I do. As Kissinger said, "To be an enemy of the US is dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal". In that sense the friction created by this move between the Japanese and American business/political communities does benefit the Chinese in a manner, although overblown considering there are much more important knots that bind at play. With that said, every little bit of friction counts, and the Japanese economic foundations today speak for themselves... as the center of gravity (U.S) tries to reestablish itself. The Europeans are also in a bind as well but that is another topic - see "European energy security:ROFLMAO: and independence" or the "Inflation Reduction Act" - "MAGA" baby.. ohh wait.. "Build Back Better" my bad. Anyways, on the other hand, MS achieving its long term goals is not a positive for the Chinese in this tech sub-sector, although I would assume these protectionist moves for "Fortress America" at the expense of the comfort of America's "allies" is seen by the Chinese/Russians as futile in the long term (but that is another discussion of an even more complex and bigger encompassing topic).

Sony's move to voice their displeasure and incite oversight - generally speaking - all the fuss around regulatory oversight should be seen more as a compromise bargaining maneuver than anything else imo. Unless there is some internal American infighting by big tech players that I'm not privy to... the likes of Google/Apple/Amazon/Meta who are the sole ones with the political capital and power to cause the necessary ruckus to shoot this down. Again, Sony choosing the UK to take its shots says it all really. The fuck are the Britts gonna do, please...

Astroturfing troll farms employed by MS and the fanatical idiots playing their James Bond game on online boards and social media by "manufacturing consent" for MS are of no consequence. But they do achieve the goal for the most part of divide and conquer among the plebs... which is why funds and tongue are allocated to this effort and is a positive for MS. The optics must be managed, lest you can't even handle that right with salaried jobs.... to quote the biggest conman in gaming... "It's a perception management problem". Ain't nobody can excuse with a straight face or seriously, the back2back acquisitions of two big publishers, with the biggest of them all yet (Acti), on top of an acquisition spree of mid-size and smaller independent studios before that.... and equate all of that equally to some studios acquisitions by Sony or the well established practice of third party exclusive agreements, which MS was a vanguard of I might add, and which today it's almost totally wateredown vis a vis Microsoft since PC almost always gets a pass - and the overwhelming majority of gaming PCs are Windows PCs - hence the Windows OS monopoly. It's an anti-competitive move to its core - with that intent, end of. Who the fuck cares tho... the idiots are gonna say whatever the fuck they want to say and neither you nor I can change that, except perhaps hold conviction amongst some in a futile effort big picture wise. There are also other people which I wouldn't want to call them idiots as much as simply naive hoping a shining hero riding on an unicorn saves the day (regulatory bodies) by slaying the big bad monster. That is they hope these "shepherds" strike this move down based solely on ideals regarding the shepherding of competitive markets and due to considerations for the industry's "health". Rule of Law!, not Wild Wild West! You know, while I sympathize with the feeling, in heart, my head tells something else, and it's what it's.

If folks reading can't infer from this TLDR why Microsoft continues to double down on the moneypit that is Xbox (ehm Gamepass), L, after L each gen then nothing will ever solve that enigma in your brains. But an even bigger hint: "It's not cause someone at Microsoft, leadership reshuffle after reshuffle over the years is, as a collective group, "plain stupid" and likes to lose billions every odd-so number of years".
 
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24 Jun 2022
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@KnittedKnight Great post man, and not much I can really add onto it. That's a very macro-level view of the wider geopolitical landscape that these gaming acquisitions encompass. There's so much going on behind the scenes outside of the focus of what the regulatory bodies would be looking at, that it almost seems mind-boggling.

The things you bring up are truths, but having said that, I'm still willing to be a "pleb" to some extend if just to hold onto hope that some actual changes come about 😂. Major governments across the world know how important it is to seize the top spot of the tech space, gaming being the biggest entertainment market in the world meaning they're going to want to seize control of that as well. And big tech (even mid-sized tech) companies acting as hands or extensions of the geopolitical tech game isn't a surprise.

Maybe that's why I hold onto hope that in some function, the industry itself can self-regulate the rate and activity of acquisitions and consolidation. If the governments have no genuine interest in ensuring the market remains authentically fair in terms of a balanced competitive landscape (at least in terms of as when competitors enter the space, and some measure of merit is being a critical factor in determining regulatory outcomes), then maybe platform holders and publishers themselves can decouple enough from the governmental bodies and establish some form of legitimate self-regulation. Or at least friggin' give the impression of effort towards such, even if it's ultimately theater.

I simply can't resign to throwing away all degree of an optimistic outcome to deal with an issue I care about as a customer and as a gamer, as a fan of this hobby over the years. Even if that involves some amount of self-delusion. Because I know that ultimately, any self-regulation could be overruled by governmental bodies and organizations, I'm just saying it would be nice to see the industry put up the effort to try, that way at least gamers could see where some of these companies really fall when it comes to purportedly advertising themselves as "pro-consumer".
 
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Sircaw

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20 Jun 2022
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@KnittedKnight Great post man, and not much I can really add onto it. That's a very macro-level view of the wider geopolitical landscape that these gaming acquisitions encompass. There's so much going on behind the scenes outside of the focus of what the regulatory bodies would be looking at, that it almost seems mind-boggling.

The things you bring up are truths, but having said that, I'm still willing to be a "pleb" to some extend if just to hold onto hope that some actual changes come about 😂. Major governments across the world know how important it is to seize the top spot of the tech space, gaming being the biggest entertainment market in the world meaning they're going to want to seize control of that as well. And big tech (even mid-sized tech) companies acting as hands or extensions of the geopolitical tech game isn't a surprise.

Maybe that's why I hold onto hope that in some function, the industry itself can self-regulate the rate and activity of acquisitions and consolidation. If the governments have no genuine interest in ensuring the market remains authentically fair in terms of a balanced competitive landscape (at least in terms of as when competitors enter the space, and some measure of merit is being a critical factor in determining regulatory outcomes), then maybe platform holders and publishers themselves can decouple enough from the governmental bodies and establish some form of legitimate self-regulation. Or at least friggin' give the impression of effort towards such, even if it's ultimately theater.

I simply can't resign to throwing away all degree of an optimistic outcome to deal with an issue I care about as a customer and as a gamer, as a fan of this hobby over the years. Even if that involves some amount of self-delusion. Because I know that ultimately, any self-regulation could be overruled by governmental bodies and organizations, I'm just saying it would be nice to see the industry put up the effort to try, that way at least gamers could see where some of these companies really fall when it comes to purportedly advertising themselves as "pro-consumer".
@KnittedKnight and @thicc_girls_are_teh_best, you two need to get a room, ;)

couple hotdog GIF by Dave Gamez
 

Old Gamer

Veteran
5 Aug 2022
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Depending on when the decisions by the FTC, CMA and European Comission come out, fighting them in court may be an excercise in futility. The timeline stretches until July and then the deal cancels itself automatically, so a lengthy court battle will provavly yield zero results.
It could be a way to bail from the deal, without incurring penalties. Legal expenses would likely be minute compared to the losses otherwise.

The mere fact that this even gets brought up does imply that their confidence on the deal going through is not as unshakeable as it once was.
 

Dabaus

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28 Jun 2022
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Im surprised more people arent talking about microsofts president saying sonys objections are like block buster complaining about netflix. Didnt netflix put blockbuster out of business? Why would you use that analogy? Surely sony lawyers saw that and are running with it.
 

laynelane

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14 Jul 2022
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Im surprised more people arent talking about microsofts president saying sonys objections are like block buster complaining about netflix. Didnt netflix put blockbuster out of business? Why would you use that analogy? Surely sony lawyers saw that and are running with it.

Another related point is how often MS brings up Sony in their public statements on this acquisition. It's unsurprising their warriors, influencers, astroturfers, etc. are constantly blaming Sony for every perceived issue with this deal. I wonder if that's the only reason MS pushes that narrative so hard, though.
 

DonFerrari

Banned
14 Jul 2022
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Im surprised more people arent talking about microsofts president saying sonys objections are like block buster complaining about netflix. Didnt netflix put blockbuster out of business? Why would you use that analogy? Surely sony lawyers saw that and are running with it.

Not really, Blockbuster died more so because of horrible business models and probably the biggest reason was Redbox. Why drive all the way to a Blockbuster when there is a Redbox kiosk at virtually every corner with the same movies.
 
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