Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard: Examining the Largest Tech Acquisition of All Time

12 Berkeley J. Ent. & Sports L. 17

38 Pages Posted: 13 May 2022 Last revised: 30 May 2023

Date Written: May 11, 2022

Abstract

The video game industry is larger than the movie, book, and music markets combined, bringing in $180 billion in revenue annually. The game industry features a number of product markets, from the video games themselves, to competitive game tournaments, to merchandise based on players’ favorite game properties. However, when Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision-Blizzard (abbreviated as “Activision”), it framed the deal as a relatively small piece of the larger game industry. Despite the fact that the $69 billion deal would be the largest tech acquisition of all time, Microsoft argued that together the two companies would hold a measly ten percent of the entire game market. Despite what proponents of the deal suggest, the game industry has a great number of discrete markets. Just as the movie industry is comprised of numerous individual markets – among them movie theaters, streaming platforms, and movie production companies – so too is the gaming industry comprised of numerous markets. This Article reviews Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision and surveys potential market definitions that proponents and opponents of the deal are likely to propose. The Article settles on two market definitions that would best fit the merger: the premium and subscription game markets. The Article assesses the pro-competitive and anti-competitive effects of the acquisition on the two relevant markets. While the FTC is likely to promulgate new vertical merger guidelines, this Article uses historical FTC practice and Supreme Court precedent to review the acquisition. Ultimately, the Article concludes that the acquisition is likely to harm competition in both defined markets.

Keywords: law, antitrust, video games, activision, microsoft, tech, technology, big tech, activision-blizzard, gaming, acquisition, microsoft and activision, activision acquisition

Suggested Citation

Pales, Eli, Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard: Examining the Largest Tech Acquisition of All Time (May 11, 2022). 12 Berkeley J. Ent. & Sports L. 17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4106912 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4106912

Eli Pales (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06510
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,650
Abstract Views
4,642
Rank
20,323
PlumX Metrics