In a significant development in the technology and gaming industry, a U.S. judge has issued a temporary restraining order that halts Microsoft’s ambitious acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard. The move comes in response to a request made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has expressed concerns about potential antitrust issues arising from the deal. This decision has put a halt to Microsoft’s plans to close the $69 billion acquisition, which would have further solidified its presence in the gaming industry. The case is set to undergo an evidentiary hearing, where the court will consider the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction on June 22-23 in San Francisco.


Microsoft’s bid to acquire Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s largest video game companies, has faced a series of regulatory hurdles and legal challenges. The FTC, tasked with enforcing antitrust laws, initially raised objections to the acquisition in December, citing concerns about Microsoft’s potential unfair advantage in the video game console market. The European Commission approved the deal, but the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked it in April, highlighting similar concerns over competition and consumer choice.

Temporary Restraining Order

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order on Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has put a pause on the deal’s progress. The judge has scheduled a two-day evidentiary hearing to thoroughly examine the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction, thereby allowing both parties to present their legal arguments. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard must submit their opposing arguments by June 16, while the FTC is required to reply by June 20. The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until at least five days after the court rules on the preliminary injunction request.

Antitrust Concerns

The FTC’s concerns revolve around the potential consolidation of power in the gaming industry, specifically the market for video game consoles. With Microsoft’s popular Xbox console and Activision Blizzard’s vast portfolio of popular gaming franchises, including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, the acquisition could significantly impact competition and consumer choice. The regulatory body believes that such a merger would give Microsoft an unfair advantage, potentially limiting options for gamers and stifling innovation.

International Implications

The regulatory scrutiny surrounding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard extends beyond the United States. While the European Commission earlier approved the deal, the UK’s CMA expressed reservations in April and prevented the acquisition from moving forward. The conflicting decisions by regulatory bodies highlight the complexity of evaluating mergers in the gaming industry, where market dominance and competition are crucial factors.

Industry Impact

The outcome of this legal battle will have far-reaching consequences for both Microsoft and the gaming industry as a whole. Microsoft has been striving to strengthen its position in the gaming market, and the acquisition of Activision Blizzard would have been a game-changer. The merger would have expanded Microsoft’s gaming offerings and user base, solidifying its presence in an increasingly competitive industry. On the other hand, if the acquisition is permanently blocked, it could potentially open doors for other players to explore partnerships and acquisitions, reshaping the competitive landscape.


The temporary restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila puts a hold on Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, following concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission regarding potential antitrust issues. This decision marks another hurdle in Microsoft’s ambitious plan to expand its foothold in the gaming industry. As the evidentiary hearing approaches, both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, along with the FTC, will present their arguments, providing an opportunity for a comprehensive examination of the potential impact of the acquisition. The outcome of this legal battle will significantly influence the gaming industry and set a precedent for future mergers and acquisitions within the sector.

Written by Agbo Obinnaya.

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