This week's FTC v Microsoft hearing, in which the US agency is seeking a temporary injunction against Microsoft's attempt to buy Activision Blizzard, has been a messy one. The latest blunder: A Microsoft lawyer claiming that The Elder Scrolls 16 will release in 2026, which is wrong in every way it could be.
The lawyer, whose words were transcribed by The Verge, was attempting to correct a misunderstanding, but only managed to confuse the situation more when she said: "There are two Elder Scrolls games, one is online called Elder Scrolls Online—that is a multiplayer game, it is on PlayStation today. [The FTC's lawyer is] talking about Elder Scrolls 16, that is projected for release in 2026 as a singleplayer game."
Obviously, Microsoft's lawyer meant to say "The Elder Scrolls 6," but that only makes things worse in a way, because The Elder Scrolls 6 is no more expected to release in 2026 than The Elder Scrolls 16.
TES6 was announced years ago, but that was just Bethesda letting its audience know that it plans to make the game, not an indication that it's anywhere close to existing. At the hearing last week, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that TES6 is still "so far out, it's hard to understand what the platforms will even be" and that it's "five-plus years away," as reported by Axios' Stephen Totilo.
That's far from the only blunder in this blunderous hearing. Others include an improperly redacted PlayStation document and an unredacted, and then later redacted, Microsoft document that revealed some of its past acquisition targets.
The Verge also jotted down a couple instances of PC gaming-related bewilderment during the hearing. At one point today, the FTC reportedly struggled to articulate to Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley that not every PC has the capabilities of a gaming PC. A funny exchange along similar lines occurred on June 27 when, as The Verge's Tom Warren reports it, Judge Corley interrupted the FTC to ask why people don't just play games on PC, since they can also use a PC for work. If you ask us, the judge is onto something with that one.
It's a struggle to listen to lawyers fail to explain things that any of us could clear up in two sentences, but I suppose it's easy for me to say that while typing from behind a desk rather than speaking spontaneously in court, where I'd probably be even more tongue twisted. (Although I probably wouldn't accidentally announce the release date of The Elder Scrolls 16.)
Today is the last day of the hearing, and the judge's order should come fairly quickly given the circumstances. If the FTC gets its way, Microsoft will be prevented from closing its Activision Blizzard acquisition before early August, when the agency can try to kill it for good. If the FTC loses, Microsoft will do everything it can to get the imperiled deal done ASAP, despite also facing opposition from UK regulators.