Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Nvidia's outside counsel enters appearance in Federal Trade Commission's Microsoft-ActivisionBlizzard case

A new filing in connection has been made public by the Federal Trade Commission: two lawyers from the firm of Quinn Emanuel appeared on Nvidia's behalf (PDF) in the FTC's in-house lawsuit against Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard King (NASDAQ_ATVI). The attorneys gave notice of their appearance yesterday (Monday), but there is always some delay between actual filings and their publication by the FTC on its website.

I wrote in a January 18 post:

Nvidia is reportedly not against the deal per se. It appears to me they just want to opportunistically ensure that in the event others get a 10-year Call of Duty license (as Nintendo already has), they'll get one as well, though they don't have one now as far as I can see.

It's unclear whether those lawyers are going to try to support the FTC or whether the reason is just a discovery dispute. Nvidia's GeForce Now cloud gaming service is relevant as one of the FTC's theories is that Microsoft's ownership of Activision Blizzard King's title would adversely affect competition between cloud gaming services. Microsoft's Game Pass is already very popular, but it's a dynamic category and rumor has it that Netflix is interested in it, too.

Sony has been subpoenaed by Microsoft and may bring a motion to quash or limit the subpoena. The deadline for a potential motion is tomorrow (February 1), as I mentioned earlier today (Activision Blizzard points competition regulators to Sony's 'The Last of Us' blockbuster based on PlayStation-exclusive first-party game in merger context). It's possible that Nvidia has been subpoenaed at about the same time as Sony. If so, we may find out from their next filing.