Sony’s $ 3.6 billion acquisition of Bungie is reportedly under investigation by the FTC.
Sony’s acquisition of Bungie’s Destiny 2 studio may have gotten worse as The Information reports that the US Federal Trade Commission has initiated a “thorough investigation” of the market.
The investigation began in late April, according to the report, and appears to focus primarily on whether Sony could make Bungie games, including the Destiny series, exclusively for PlayStation consoles. Immediately after announcing the acquisition deal, Bungie said it would continue to operate primarily independently and “run a united Bungie community,” a position we felt was perfectly reasonable.
However, the FTC appears to have questions and has reportedly requested more information from Sony and Bungie to determine what type of incentive Sony should withhold some or all of Bungie’s games and services on other platforms. The process could delay the completion of the contract for up to six months.
The FTC’s control of such acquisitions may seem unusual (I don’t remember hearing such an official leak when Microsoft spent double the purchase of Bethesda Softworks, which, with all due respect to Destiny 2 fans out there, was a much larger measure). , but future acquisitions of this magnitude may have similar resistance to overcome. In July 2021, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order urging the FTC to enforce antitrust laws “fairly and vigorously” and said his administration’s policy is to “enforce the laws. antitrust”. to face the challenges of the new industry and technology. “.
The FTC appears to accept this mandate: In January 2022, it announced a joint public investigation with the US Department of Justice aimed at strengthening and modernizing state merger policies and enforcement “to combine better detection and prevention.”. Agreements in modern markets today.
Other parts of the US government have become skeptical of large-scale acquisitions in the video game industry. In March, US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to FTC President Lina Khan criticizing Activision CEO Blizzard Bobby Kotick’s gold parachute and urging the agency to “evaluate failure “in the ways of protecting these companies, the rights and dignity of their workers, driven by monophonic power [economic term, not what happens when Sony buys too many developer games], or when Sony does anticompetitive damage to our job market.
Many public interest groups, including American Communications Workers – who have supported efforts to create syndicates in the game development industry – launched their open letter in March, urging the FTC to “conduct a carefully measured review of the agreement. “to guarantee open, fair and competitive markets”.
An FTC representative declined to comment on the report, including confirming or denying its completion. I have reached out to Sony and Bungie for comments and will update when I get a reply.