The Biggest Deal In Gaming Is Under Fire From U.S. Senators

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War
(Image credit: Activison)

Four U.S. senators have torpedoed Microsoft’s $69 billion deal for Activision. They believe that the consolidation of the high-tech industry and corporate culture of gender misconduct at Activision could expand by the transaction. Democrat senators think that the planned takeover could undermine employees’ calls for accountability over alleged gender and sexual harassment at the game developer.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D), Bernie Sanders (I), Cory Booker (D), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D) are distraught with the fact that Robert Kotick, chief exec of Activision, will remain at the helm of the game company until closing in 2023. With the same head, the culture of misconduct will not go away, they assume. Another point they are concerned about is the consolidation of the high-tech industry in general and its impact on the workforce. Given their concerns, they wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in an attempt to block the deal.

“We are deeply concerned about consolidation in the tech industry and its impact on workers,” the letter obtained by the Wall Street Journal reads. “This lack of accountability, despite shareholders, employees, and the public calling for Kotick to be held responsible for the culture he created, would be an unacceptable result of the proposed Microsoft acquisition.”

In their letter to the FTC, the legislators also point out that if completed, the transaction will allow Kotick to continue his work and get a hefty severance package, possibly, everything. At the same time, some 1,800 employees of Activision signed a letter demanding Kotick’s resignation. Microsoft denies that Kotick is en route for a golden parachute.

The senators demand that FTC oppose the deal if it finds that it can worsen the negotiating position between workers and companies (in this case, Microsoft represents both entities).

Microsoft commented on the letter saying that the deal compels both stakeholders and employees but never commented on gender and sexual misconduct.

“This is a compelling transaction for all stakeholders, including employees,” Lisa Tanzi, corporate vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, told the WSJ. “We believe Activision Blizzard will continue making progress [in the misconduct situation], and we are committed to further progress after the deal closes.”

Activision owns popular franchises like Call of DutyWorld of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, available on a wide variety of platforms. Given Microsoft’s global strategy of being multiplatform, relying on the cloud, and selling first-party games for Windows PCs and Xbox consoles, it is not surprising that it wants to get Activision with all of its franchises. The question is whether Microsoft is ready to include Activision’s culture.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • Irrelevant. None of these 4 have the power to sway enough of the vote.
  • RareAir23
    Even though the 4 names in question are very outspoken and very influential in our country I for now agree with @Captain Discombobulate to a good degree in the sense that if the 4 senators in question are the only ones opposed between now and when the deal closes, their complaint won't make much difference in stopping the deal. However; notice I said these 4 are "very influential" 1 sentence ago. From that, what we might see from here (watchword being "might") is more senators joining their complaint either by reading what they wrote today, agreeing and joining the cause in the days ahead or these senators will going forward consult others in the government and get them to agree to join them. It has happened before and even in the socio-political climate we are in right this second don't think we won't ever see it again because as James Bond said in License to Kill, "Always expect the unexpected!" Out!
  • hotaru251
    TBH given past history Microsoft does take this stuff seriously.
    Though I DO agree that guy shouldnt get anything and should be fired immediately w/o severance pay.
  • Endymio
    Whatever happened to the rule of law in this country? The FTC has no right whatsoever to oppose or block any acquisition on the basis of "social and gender inequality", whether real or perceived.
  • drivinfast247
    Endymio said:
    Whatever happened to the rule of law in this country? The FTC has no right whatsoever to oppose or block any acquisition on the basis of "social and gender inequality", whether real or perceived.
    Gender is all that matters these days! Haven't you been paying attention to the news?