US FTC pauses in-house trial for the Microsoft Activision deal

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(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Update: The FTC has indeed withdrawn its in-house trial, a mainly procedural move as the agency was required to after it had been requested by Microsoft following the FTC's loss in court.

Original Story:

What you need to know

  • A new report suggests that the U.S. FTC is planning to pause its in-house trial against Microsoft's planned $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.
  • This would be a major win for Microsoft and Activision, who recently asked the FTC to drop its case.
  • According to sources in the report, the FTC must withdraw its challenge of the deal after losing its case in federal court last week. An order from the FTC is expected later today.
  • Earlier this week, Microsoft and Activision extended the deal's closure date to October 18 to give themselves more time to negotiate with the U.K. CMA over its concerns about the merger's impact on the cloud gaming market.

The Microsoft Xbox vs. FTC saga may finally be coming to a close, according to information revealed in a new report.

Reportedly, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to pause its in-house trial against Microsoft's planned $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. Sources familiar with the situation suggest that this may lead to a potential settlement between the FTC and the Redmond firm.

This development would be a major victory for Microsoft and Activision as they move to close the merger following a long string of disputes with U.S. and U.K. regulators. Notably, this news comes a week after the FTC's request for injunctive relief was denied. If granted, it would have extended the restraining order preventing the deal from completing.

(Image credit: Windows Central / Microsoft / FTC)

Earlier this week, Microsoft and Activision asked the FTC to withdraw its case scheduled for trial in the agency's in-house courts in August. According to two sources in the report, the FTC must withdraw after losing its federal case to stop the merger. An FTC order is expected later today.

Once the agency withdraws its case, the companies can attempt to reach a settlement with the FTC or convince it to fully abandon its opposition. Notably, the FTC's appeal of the aforementioned federal court decision remains ongoing. Microsoft has reportedly declined to comment.

Recently, Microsoft and Activision agreed to extend the deal's closing date to October 18 so that it could negotiate with the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The regulator announced its veto of the merger in April over cloud gaming concerns, but recently expressed its intent to allow Microsoft to propose a compromise.

Windows Central's take

Given that the FTC typically dismisses cases if it loses in federal court, it wouldn't surprise me if the agency concluded its challenge of the merger following Judge Corley's ruling last week. With that said, if there's one thing I've learned while covering this merger, it's that unexpected outcomes are more likely than I thought they were.

Ultimately, I'm just ready for this whole ordeal to be over. With any luck, Microsoft's negotiations with the CMA will prove to be fruitful and the merger can close without other significant complications.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

With contributions from
  • fjtorres5591
    They didn't pause...
    ...They withdrew the case entirely.

    (Read the oficial document/PDF. "It's dead, Jim.")
    Losing a quarter of their budget forced some revaluation on how they spend their money.

    A further message to the CMA.