Moss Talks with Quartz About Competition Issues Raised by the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Deal

In a Quartz January 20 article “Microsoft is ready for its biggest antitrust battle in decades after Activision deal,” AAI President Diana Moss talked about competition issues raised by the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal.

From the article:

Diana Moss, the president of the American Antitrust Institute, said that any antitrust review would focus on how Microsoft’s acquisition would reshape the gaming industry, any hardware and software exclusivity, and whether Microsoft might dominate any emerging markets.Microsoft will need to prove that the deal is neither anticompetitive nor harmful to new firms or consumers. Benjamin Sirota, an attorney at the law firm Kobre & Kim and a former prosecutor for the DOJ’s antitrust division, said regulators will be investigating how acquisition affects competition with platforms such as Sony, as well as smaller game-makers. The Activision Blizzard deal would allow Microsoft to vertically integrate—it will own a big chunk of the gaming ecosystem from studio to distribution to console—and expand horizontally since the established game studio and publisher is acquiring a major rival in the sector.

Microsoft clearly thinks a tough anti-trust review will be worth it. Acquiring Activision Blizzard could not only aid its gaming business, but it could also help it dominate the metaverse. CEO Satya Nadella is one of the major figures in Silicon Valley talking about building the metaverse, an immersive version of the internet powered by virtual and augmented reality. Microsoft’s expanded gaming prowess could help it win more of the VR and AR market, and validate its major investments in its HoloLens headsets and digital twins technology.

But it’s unclear if regulators will accept this expansive view of its market (and thus less likely to trigger anti-competitive regulation), says Oh at the Technology Policy Institute: “Whether the metaverse is a catchphrase or a definable place is still to be determined.”