Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard

It certainly is different. You can lead a market without anti competitive practices.

However, if you do not have a controlling interest in a market, then you can’t actually be anti competitive in the way that anti trust is intended to regulate.

Anti competitive doesn’t simply mean “try to beat your competition”. That’s what competition is.

Anti trust regulation is intended to prevent monopolistic control of an industry, where consumer choice is limited to the degree that a company can do whatever it wants because they are effectively the only game in town.

This is why the idea that somehow the 3rd largest company in an industry would somehow have monopolistic control over the market is nonsense. They will obviously still have major competition in the gaming industry, but virtue of the fact that two other companies will still both control larger chunks of it.

The argument against this merger appears to be based on the idea that if Microsoft’s game division is even remotely close to Sony in terms of market control (yet still much smaller), then Sony is going to get the vapors and collapse, leaving Microsoft in control of all of gaming.

The mere threat of competition is going to destroy Sony somehow, and so we cannot allow that, because competition will be anti competitive.

I think that is the crux of the argument here.

Microsoft is buying Activision/Blizzard to better compete with their peers.

The FTC (as well as Sony) is saying that this purchase is actually anti-competitive in nature.

Competition is really up to the eye of the beholder. It is not like the FTC disallows every merger request that comes in, this happens literally all the time. Their job is to protect consumers from anti-competitive practices, which can be purchases or mergers like the above. That hasn’t stopped companies from doing anti-competitive things, but the goal is to stop the really egregious ones.

Right now, just looking at this purchase, it doesn’t feel anti-competitive to me. Any purchase could be argued as anti-consumer if you think about it. Sony buying Bungie, etc. That is not saying that the FTC shouldn’t do its job and protect customers, but they will need to come up with more evidence than we have seen so far.

Microsoft could use its ownership over Activision titles to raise prices, or to try to funnel players to gaming platforms it controls, such as Xbox or Windows , the FTC said.

Like I quoted here. I take serious umbrage with this reasoning. “funnel players to gaming platforms it controls” is not anti-consumer, it is quite literally what every publisher has ever done for the entire existence of the gaming industry. It also doesn’t feel anti-competitive when you have every other publisher gobbling up studios like pellets in a game of pac-man. They are trying to compete. This is a hell of a large purchase, but it is done in the spirit of trying to compete in the market.

Now, the other part of that, is something that is anti-consumer… but also not really anti-competitive. Purchasing all your favorite IP’s and then jacking up the prices would be super non consumer-friendly. But it also would have to compete with the other 2 huge players in the industry on pricing. I don’t see this as a strong argument either, as it appears both Sony and Microsoft are competing with eachother heavily on pricing for game-pass and playstation plus.

If the FTC really wants to push their weight around on anti-consumer or anti-competitive practices, their next task should be fighting Apple and Google with their app stores.

I mean, when we got Microsoft sued as a monopoly for including internet explorer in Windows, but we allow Apple (and to a much lesser extent) Google to force any developer for their platform to use their store? Call me when that shit is on the docket.

What’s even wilder is our government hamstringing an American company to aid a Japanese company and a Chinese company.

Which is why I don’t think that this acquisition gets blocked.

Though, to be fair, in Sony and Nintendo’s case they have very large stakes in the US market with developers/offices/workers here. And losing those would be bad for the consumer and the economy.

Not saying I necessarily agree with what I’m about to say, but is it possible they’re looking at it from the perspective of “if the deal goes through, they may “only” be #3 right now, but they’ll have the tools in place to fairly easily coast into a #1 position just based on the assets they’ll have and what they can do with them”

It’s the only explanation that makes me wrap my head around this situation

Or, maybe the FTC knows jack all about the game industry, has no clue about the dynamics of players and developers and publishers, and doesn’t actually understand the relationship between gamers, game IPs, and hardware, among other things. It’s entirely possible that this is another case of the government in some form jumping into a field where it seems on the surface to be something they are familiar with but which really is something of which they are mostly ignorant.

Recognizing that you don’t necessarily personally buy the theory, but what has stopped them from using these tools all these years from the #4 position that magically become more dastardly from the #3 position? Seems like very specific tools.

But there’s no real concrete path by which this happens. They certainly couldn’t “coast” to dominating the gaming industry.

Again, there seems to be this suggestion that by having Microsoft be a closer, yet still smaller competitor, that ain’t is just going to collapse.

No, it won’t… They’ll merely be forced to improve their offerings. This is why competition is good. Having gamepass be good, is good for everyone, because it’ll force don’t to make their own gamepass competitor not suck.

And this is what I want, because I’m inevitably going to buy a PS5, and I want them to have to compete.

The big issue that I have with these kinds of lawsuits, is that people in the FTC and judges don’t actually understand any of this stuff, meaning the gaming industry.

I believe the FTC has filed against Facebook today as well over Meta buying out another VR company. I know I’m a total broken record at this point, but the only reason this is starting now that makes sense is the change in leadership at the FTC. Lina Khan is a critic of big tech.

WaPo seems to agree.

You’re right, but I’m trying to get into their heads. If the FTC buys into Sonys rhetoric that Call of Duty is a life or death prospect for them, then maybe they do believe that Ms would be able To coast to dominance.

It’ll be interesting if the American government manages to destroy the future of American industry, which is those big tech companies.

Seriously. That’s the only thing we export to the world. And it’s the most important industry in the world right now.

So with this fucked up timeline, all but guaranteed.

The lawsuit warns that the deal not only could give Microsoft an upper hand in consoles, but also an unfair advantage in more nascent gaming, such as subscription gaming and cloud gaming, according to an FTC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the agency’s argument. The FTC argues that this deal could dampen innovation in these more nascent gaming markets, the person said.

This is the crux, I think, as I originally said when the deal was first announced - MS is currently the clear leader in this newly emerging market of Netflix-style gaming subscriptions.

I guess I don’t see how the acquisition changes that. It’s not like AB has a competing service like Game Pass?

No, but Sony do and are desperately playing catch-up.

Sure, but if AB has no such service how is the acquisition reducing competition in that space?

While you can pay your $70 for Acti-Blizz titles on Playstation until the end of time (or for the next 10 years), slim chance they’ll ever be on PS Plus as a free or streaming title from a MS-owned Acti-Blizz.

Wait… So the argument is going to be that Microsoft needs to be punished in some unrelated aspect of the industry, because Sony hasn’t improved their subscription services?

I mean… Sony had a huge library of games. They totally COULD make their services better.

The only thing that will force then to do so, is for Microsoft to start nipping at their heels.

Plus, Gamepass is one of the main ways Microsoft is trying to compete in the console market, which Sony dominates.