Video Games

Senators ask FTC to review Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal

Senators ask FTC to review Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal

Four U.S. senators have asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate $68.7 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. In an open letter sent Thursday, the senses. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse and Cory Booker have urged Khan to review two companies which they say “failed to protect the rights and dignity of their workers”.

“Activision Blizzard workers, after years of rampant gender misconduct and discrimination and unfair labor practices, have called for greater transparency and accountability in the gaming industry, and we are deeply concerned about the fact that this acquisition could further disenfranchise these workers and prevent their voice from being heard,” the senators wrote.

Warren, Sanders, Whitehouse and Booker said the FTC should veto the deal if it believes “the transaction is likely to improve monopsony power and worsen the bargaining position between workers and parties”.

In January, Microsoft announced its intention to Acquire Activision Blizzard; in February, a Bloomberg report said the FTC, rather than Justice Department regulators, would review the case. Activision Blizzard is also facing many lawsuits regarding Microsoft dealas well as allegations and lawsuits regarding allegations of systemic sexual harassment and discrimination.

One of the discrimination lawsuits, filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionwas settled for $18 million earlier this week, an agreement that the Communication Workers of America (CWA) called “woefully inadequate.” A trial involving the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is in progress.

CEO of Activision Bobby Kotickwho faced calls for the resignation of Activision Blizzard employees, will continue to lead the company until the deal with Microsoft is finalized. Kotick, however, is also under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding possible insider trading, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

In August, Activision Blizzard QA employees spoke out on demanding work, low wages and the intense crisis. Workers across the company have since walked out of the company to protest the allegations and legal action Activision is facing. As this continues, workers at Activision Blizzard and Raven Software QA have taken steps to form a union and are awaiting a decision from the National Labor Relations Board that will define the scope of this proposed union.

The NLRB hearing ended in February with Activision Blizzard accused by workers and union representatives of union-busting and foot-dragging. A Microsoft representative said last week that the company “will not stand in the way” of any Activision Blizzard union if recognized, according to the Washington Post.

The four senators called Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard “a cynical and ‘opportunistic’ attempt to capitalize on systemic problems that have come to light at Activision Blizzard.” The senators noted that Microsoft’s bid to acquire Activision comes “during its crisis of weak worker protections,” and said the company’s history with its workers “is also present.”[s] alarming signs about how Microsoft would treat Activision Blizzard employees.

Neither Activision Blizzard nor Microsoft responded to Polygon’s request for comment before publication.