In recent weeks, Microsoft has accused Sony, its chief video game rival, of misleading regulators. Its lawyers have showed off game consoles, including an Xbox, to British officials. And the president of a major union that Microsoft wooed has spoken up on the company's behalf to the Federal Trade Commission.
The actions are part of a campaign by Microsoft to counter intensifying scrutiny of its $69 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, the largest consumer technology deal since AOL bought Time Warner two decades ago, and far bigger than Elon Musk's recent $44 billion buyout of Twitter.
Microsoft's aim is simple: persuade skeptical governments around the globe to approve the blockbuster takeover. Sixteen governments must bless the purchase, putting Microsoft under the most regulatory pressure it has faced since the antitrust battles of the 1990s. And in three key places — the United States, the European Union and Britain — regulators have begun deep reviews, with the European Commission declaring this month that it was opening an in-depth investigation of the deal.
Whether Microsoft succeeds in gaining regulatory approval to buy Activision, which makes games such as Candy Crush and Call of Duty, will send a message about Big Tech's ability to expand in the face of mounting fears that industry giants wield too much power. If Microsoft, whose public affairs operation has spent the past decade building the company's nice-guy reputation, can't get a megadeal through, can anyone?
"If this deal had happened four years ago, this would hardly be of any interest," Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, said in an interview. "If one cannot do something easy, then we'll all know you can't do something hard."
Google, Meta, Amazon and Apple have all faced increasing accusations that they are monopolies, and regulators have tried to block some of their smaller deals. In July, the F.T.C. sued Meta, Facebook's parent company, to stop it from buying Within, a virtual reality start-up. Last month, Britain forced Meta to sell Giphy, an image database it bought in 2020 for $315 million.