FTC loses again, Microsoft is now clear to close the Activision-Xbox deal in the US

Xbox, Activision Blizzard King, and FTC logos on a black background
(Image credit: Windows Central / Microsoft / FTC)

What you need to know

  • The FTC is trying to stop Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion.
  • After having a preliminary injunction denied, the FTC appealed the decision to the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, appealing the decision and seeking injunctive relief.
  • The injunctive relief, which would've extended the existing temporary restraining order, has been denied. 
  • Microsoft can legally acquire Activision Blizzard in the U.S. very shortly.

The saga of Microsoft's biggest ever acquisition is coming to a close.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appealed a recent decision by Judge Corley to deny the agency a preliminary injunction which would've temporarily stopped Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard. The FTC was additionally seeking injunctive relief, meaning an extensive of the restraining order currently keeping Microsoft from closing the deal. 

The injunctive relief was denied on Friday in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Once the existing temporary restraining order expires at midnight Pacific Time, Microsoft can legally acquire Activision Blizzard in the U.S.

"We appreciate the Ninth Circuit's swift response denying the FTC's motion to further delay the Activision deal. This brings us another step closer to the finish line in this marathon of global regulatory reviews," said Brad Smith, president at Microsoft.

The deal has taken 18 months to come together, with regulatory pushback and a near-unprecedent number of roadblocks and agreements to make it happen. Microsoft previously received clearance from the European Commission and numerous other countries like Japan and Brazil, while the FTC in the U.S. and the CMA in the U.K. have provided the biggest obstacles so far.

After a five-day court hearing in June where numerous secrets were spilled with Microsoft vs. the FTC, U.S. federal Judge Corley denied the regulator a preliminary injunction to stop the deal, saying that the massive purchase might be "Perhaps bad for Sony. But good for Call of Duty gamers and future gamers."

The CMA has also signaled that it is open to new remedies, which reportedly include Microsoft selling off the rights to Activision games in the Cloud in the U.K, removing additional roadblocks from the deal. The deal is currently set to finalize at some point by July 18, 2023.

Windows Central's take

This epic has had so many twists and turns it's been unrealistic, but at long last, it's over. Or, well, it's ALMOST over.

Microsoft is going to close the deal on time. I expect this news to come sometime on Monday  or early Tuesday at the absolute latest.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.