By DON McINTOSH
Microsoft will be allowed to acquire video game maker Activision Blizzard, and that’s a good thing, says national AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler.
In January 2022, when the tech giant first announced a deal to acquire Activision for $69 billion, Communications Workers of America called on Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to stop it, saying the purchase would give Microsoft an unfair amount of market power, threaten data privacy, limit consumers’ and independent business’ right to repair game consoles, and lead to union busting and wage suppression.
The FTC did sue to stop it, on the grounds that the merger would violate antitrust law, which is meant to prevent monopoly. Activision owns some of the world’s most popular games, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. Its acquisition would make Microsoft, maker of the XBox console, the third largest gaming company in the world.
But CWA changed its stance in June 2022 after Microsoft signed a neutrality pledge committing to stay neutral if Activision Blizzard workers consider unionizing. CWA has been trying to organize tech workers for decades, and in 2020 it launched CODE-CWA, the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees.
On July 11, the FTC lost in federal court: A federal judge denied its request for a preliminary injunction that would block the sale.
Now the deal can go through.
In a press statement, AFL-CIO president Shuler applauded the denial, saying it opens the door for 10,000 workers in the technology and video game industry to join a union.
The merger agreement was set to expire July 18, but could be renewed. The merger still faces legal challenges from a similar anti-monopoly agency in the United Kingdom.