The Federal Trade Commission is opening an official inquiry into Sony’s acquisition of Bungie, the studio behind the Destiny series.
This marks a notable increase in oversight for acquisitions in the gaming industry, and it’ll be the second planned purchase the FTC is investigating. In April 2022, the FTC announced it was launching an investigation of the Microsoft Activision deal, which is still ongoing.
In January Sony announced it was purchasing Bungie for $3.6 billion, although the studio would continue to function as an “independent subsidiary.” According to The Information, the FTC began seeking more information about the deal last week.
The investigation will focus on concerns that Sony is trying to block competition, like Xbox, from accessing Bungie’s games, including Destiny 2. In short, an investigation would have to examine the popularity of Destiny 2 and whether blocking access could meaningfully hurt competitors. This is similar to the FTC’s investigation of Microsoft, which is examining consumer data and other aspects to try and determine how the deal might impact the labour market and those that have accused Activision of discrimination and hostile workplace.
While the FTC’s investigation is unlikely to put a stop to Sony’s purchase of Bungie, it could potentially slow the deal down by a matter of weeks or months. Sony is at an advantage, as it has already stated Destiny 2 will remain a multiplatform title, and Bungie remains largely independent, rather than being folded into PlayStation Studios. The deal also isn’t wracked by the controversy and issues that surround Microsoft.
Acquisitions in the video game industry are likely to come under more scrutiny moving forward, as more companies continue to consolidate. Earlier this year, Take-Two Interactive announced it was acquiring Zynga, and Embracer Group merged with Borderlands developer Gearbox. Even the New York Times got in on the party when it bought the massively popular Wordle.