CEO of Activison Blizzard asks federal judge to approve Microsoft’s takeover

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The chief executive of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, went before a federal judge on Wednesday to urge her to allow his company to be bought by Microsoft for $69 billion.

Kotick said that any effort to make Call of Duty exclusive to one platform, as Microsoft critics have said might happen, would alienate some 100 million people who play the game each month.

“You would have a revolt if you were to remove the game from one platform,” said Kotick.

He said that removing Call of Duty from PlayStation, which is made by Sony Group, would be “very detrimental” to Activision’s business.

The Federal Trade Commission has asked a judge to stop the Microsoft acquisition temporarily in order to allow the agency’s in-house judge to decide the case. In the past, the side that lost in federal court often conceded and the in-house process was scrapped.

Much of the testimony in the trial has focused on Activision’s Call of Duty, one of the best-selling videogames of all time. It is available today on smartphones, multiple consoles and on desktop computers.

Kotick said he had considered making Call of Duty available on Nintendo Switch but decided against it because he felt the console would not be a big seller. “I made a bad judgment,” he said.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is scheduled to testify on Wednesday afternoon before Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in federal court.

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law, has taken a harder line on mergers during the Biden administration. The agency says the transaction would give Microsoft, which makes the Xbox console, exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo and Sony Group out in the cold.

To address antitrust concerns, Microsoft has offered to license Call of Duty to rivals. It has also argued that it is better off financially by licensing the games to all comers.

The deal has won approval from many jurisdictions but has been opposed by the FTC in the United States and Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority.