Today, The Information reported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an inquiry into Sony’s acquisition of the developer of the Halo sequels and Destiny series, Bungie, for $3.6 billion. The FTC, headed by “antitrust pioneer” Lina Khan, will reportedly review Sony’s takeover proposal to investigate if antitrust matters are being violated, namely if Sony was motivated to purchase Bungie in order to prevent Microsoft from having access to Bungie’s video game catalog. Despite Sony publicly promising that Destiny 2 will remain cross-platform, Sony’s ability to restrict both current and future titles is the focal point of the FTC’s concern. Therefore, the FTC will most likely be examining how popular Destiny 2, and other Bungie titles, are and determine how damaging to consumers and competitors a potential restriction would be.
While the FTC probably does not currently have the intention to block Sony’s acquisition of Bungie, it could potentially happen. In December of 2021, the FTC sued to block Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of Arm Limited, and in February, had successfully blocked Nvidia’s entrepreneurial pursuit. Likewise, in January, federal courts allowed the FTC to pursue an antitrust lawsuit against Meta over claims that Facebook had allegedly wielded monopolizing power to acquire companies like WhatsApp and Instagram. As of right now, the FTC is merely inspecting Sony’s deal with Bungie, but it would likely lead to an investigation if the FTC does find any antitrust violations within the acquisition proposal.
Overall, given how much evidence and time it takes to block a large business deal, the FTC will most likely allow the deal if Sony is not acquiring Bungie with malicious intentions. However, the time it takes for the FTC to review, the Sony-Bungie deal will most likely be pushed back 6 months, resulting in a closure at a predicted early 2023. With the current landscape of Microsoft and Sony competing to acquire more studios, video game companies may now be forced to consider the FTC when making business proposals, given that the federal agency has a successful track record and shown an interest in examining them.