Will the U.S. Government Approve Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard?

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

“When we think about our vision for what a metaverse can be, we believe there won’t be a single, centralized metaverse,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said after announcing the deal on Tuesday.

You can also read that statement as a message to Lina Khan, the head of the Federal Trade Commission, along with the rest of the Biden administration’s antitrust enforcers: I know it seems like we are swallowing up a lot of the games business, but don’t think of this as consolidation in an important industry — think of it as competition against Facebook in a new industry. Competition is good, right?

This deal is certainly going to draw a lot of attention in Washington, which has been focusing on big and small deals made by most of the tech industry — but has largely left Microsoft alone until now. (The irony, of course, is that Microsoft spent a long time fighting federal antitrust charges over its web browser dominance two decades ago; the company averted a forced break-up but lost much of its mojo along the way).

Update: I don’t see why the government would block this acquisition. Some anti-capitalists will oppose it on the ideological grounds of being against big companies getting bigger, but that’s not the law, and that’s not how our system works. If Microsoft were trying to buy Nintendo or Sony, that, in my opinion, should be blocked on anti-competitive grounds, because Nintendo and Sony make platforms that very successfully compete against Xbox. But a game studio, even a big one like Activision Blizzard? No.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022