Microsoft’s long legal battle to acquire Activision Blizzard is (mostly) over. Plus, a staggering amount of classic video games are inaccessible for most gamers. Here are this week’s top stories.
A judge rules Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision can proceed
It was a big and busy week for Microsoft.
Early in the week, a judge denied the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's request for a preliminary injunction blocking the sale. In her decision, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley stated:
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision has been described as the largest in tech history. It deserves scrutiny. That scrutiny has paid off: Microsoft has committed in writing, in public, and in court to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years on parity with Xbox. It made an agreement with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Switch. And it entered several agreements to for the first time bring Activision’s content to several cloud gaming services.
This Court’s responsibility in this case is narrow. It is to decide if, notwithstanding these current circumstances, the merger should be halted—perhaps even terminated—pending resolution of the FTC administrative action. For the reasons explained, the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content. The motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore DENIED.
The FTC appealed the decision, but their appeal was denied, allowing the merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard to move forward in the United States. However, regulators in the United Kingdom recently blocked the acquisition, due to concerns over Microsoft’s cloud gaming position.
With a win in the US courts, Microsoft paused their appeal of the UK decision, in order to negotiate with regulators. From Microsoft’s President on Twitter:
While the companies do not need the UK approval to move forward, it would benefit them in the long term and with future deals in the country. A Bloomberg article suggests Microsoft could sell off the cloud-based market rights for games in the UK to a telecommunications firm.
Microsoft and Activision originally proposed a deadline of July 18 to complete their acquisition. That is tomorrow. If the deal is not finalized by then, Microsoft must pay a $3 billion fee to Activision Blizzard and renegotiate the deal. This seems unlikely, as Activision Blizzard is being removed from the NASDAQ stock exchange today in preparation of the takeover, and Microsoft signed a deal with Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for the next 10 years.
So is the deal done? Basically, yes.
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Classic video games are disappearing at an alarming rate
Imagine if the only way to watch Titanic was to find a used VHS tape, and maintain your own vintage equipment so that you could still watch it. And what if no library, not even the Library of Congress, could do any better — they could keep and digitize that VHS of Titanic, but you’d have to go all the way there to watch it. It sounds crazy, but that’s the reality we live in with video games, a $180 billion industry, while the games and their history disappear.
For accessing nearly 9 in 10 classic games, there are few options: seek out and maintain vintage collectible games and hardware, travel across the country to visit a library, or… piracy. None of those options are desirable, which means that most video games are inaccessible to all but the most diehard and dedicated fans.
Accessing classic games is an issue. There is a large library of games from the PlayStation 3 era - a little more than a decade old - that are unavailable without that hardware. The VGHF suggests and supports expanded exemptions for libraries and organizations preserving video games.
What classic games do you wish you could play? Leave a comment, or let us know on Twitter.
Side quests (more stories worth reading)
♟️ Dorfromantik: The Board Game wins the 2023 Spiel des Jahres, Germany’s board game of the year.
👾 One of the biggest games in the world, Roblox, is coming to virtual reality on the Meta Quest.
🔮Not to be outdone, publisher Pazio said their role playing games Pathfinder and Starfinder are coming to augmented reality later this year.
🐉 Game developers consider the high standards of Baldur’s Gate 3 an anomaly. “It’s Rockstar-level nonsense for scope.”
🤖 Destiny studio Bungie wins $489,000 in litigation from a player who racially harassed one of their employees, setting new legal precedent.
✖️ Meanwhile, Xbox is rolling out voice chat recording in an effort to ban toxic gamers.
🎮 PlayStation’s Access controller for PS5 launches on December 6. The controller is designed for those who might not otherwise be able to play video games.
🙅🏿♂️ Electronic Arts says they are working on a Black Panther game in collaboration with Marvel.
🚀 By keeping Starfield an Xbox exclusive, Microsoft is losing out on about $10 million in sales.
🔫 Now 16 years old, Team Fortress 2 set a record this week for concurrent players. The reason: an update that includes a seal named Silvia.
🕹 Larry Hryb, aka ‘Major Nelson’ is leaving Microsoft after 22 years.
New Releases this week:
Check out our story on 10 New Games to Play in July.
7/17: Evergreen - Mountain Life Simulator (PC)
7/18: Coreborn: Nations of the Ultracore (PC)
7/18: Viewfinder (PlayStation and PC)
7/19: Blackout Protocol (PC)
7/20: Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - Definitive Edition (PlayStation, Switch and PC)
7/20: Punch Club 2: Fast Forward (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
7/21: Pikmin 4 (Switch)
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