U.S. Senators reportedly pressuring FTC to deliberate over Microsoft/Activision merger

Photo by Jae C. Hong via AP Photo

Amid consolidation concerns, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Bernie Sanders have sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission advising chairperson Lina Khanto to take a more thorough review of Microsoft’s proposed plan to acquire Activision Blizzard and its back catalog in a staggering $68.7 billion deal.

Unlike previous general naysaying amongst various commentators, most of which framed the proposed acquisition as encouraging a general trend towards monopolization, these recently-expressed concerns have to do with Activision’s current sexual harassment lawsuits.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the letter sent by the U.S. Senators cites concerns that Activison’s buyout by Microsoft could “exacerbate the flurry of sexual abuse, harassment and retaliation allegations stemming from recent federal and state investigations.”

This news arrives in the wake of a judge approving Activision’s attempt to settle one of its lawsuits via an $18 million compensation package, over the objections of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Now, with Microsoft looking to merge the company into its massive enterprise, concern is growing that Activision might try to avoid accountability in numerous lawsuits.

Earlier reports seemed to suggest that current Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who’s come under fire for behavior which seemingly enabled the company’s abusive work environment, might walk away from the deal with tens of millions, which is another point of concern for the Democratic senators.

For the time being, it remains to be seen if the gaming juggernaut will have much difficulty finalizing the merger with Microsoft, or whether the remaining ongoing lawsuits against Activision will continue to entangle the creators of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.