The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation into Sony’s $3.6 billion acquisition of Bungie. Sony announced its plans to purchase the studio behind Destiny on January 31, not even two weeks after Microsoft announced its plans to buy Activision Blizzard for a monstrous $70 billion, which the federal agency is also reviewing.
According to a report from The Information, sources familiar with the situation said that the FTC’s latest probe demonstrates its aggressive approach to consolidations within the technology sector, especially those taking place on the gaming side. The credit for this penchant for scrutinizing gaming industry acquisitions goes to Lina Khan, whom President Joe Biden appointed FTC Chair last year.
The FTC’s main concern about Sony’s acquisition of Bungie is about whether or not it will make its games exclusive to the PlayStation platform, especially on the new PS Plus subscription service, once the deal closes. It looks to explore whether or not such exclusivity would impede competition with rival companies, such as Microsoft and Nintendo. Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, made it clear in a blog post published the same day the company announced the merger that Bungie will retain its status as an independent and multiplatform game studio and publisher even after the deal closes. Bungie even hinted that the reason for the merger is to expand its entertainment prospects outside of games.
The federal investigation may not block the deal entirely, but it could potentially delay its closing by six months or more, possibly pushing the closing date to 2023. Sony expects to close the deal with Bungie by the end of the year.
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