Microsoft has responded to Sony’s comments about Activision’s pending acquisition of Blizzard by saying, “relax, everything is just fine here, long live free competition!”
Microsoft is facing stiff criticism from regulators worldwide as it seeks to close the Activision Blizzard acquisition. The Redmond giant is facing concerns over Activision Blizzard’s growing control over the games market due to its size. These reviews lead to some interesting statements, to say the least. The latest example comes in response to Sony, which claimed that Call of Duty’s popularity is so significant that no platform holder should own it. The rival company, of course, disagrees.
Sony’s argument, submitted as part of the ongoing Brazilian investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, claims that the popularity of Call of Duty “influences users’ choice of console”.
It also claims that the loyalty of Call of Duty players means that a rival could never recreate its success. He argues that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and with it Call of Duty, would be anti-competitive. The US company has now issued a statement seeking to refute Sony’s concerns.
Microsoft starts by saying that Sony is the only party to make such allegations; the other third parties consulted did not have similar feelings about the acquisition. They also believe that Sony is being contradictory. The company points out that the exclusivity agreements were also an essential element of Sony’s own business strategy. Indeed, Sony actively enters into agreements whereby developers must agree not to release their games on Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft also raised several other objections in a 27-page document submitted to the Brazilian regulator.
These include Redmond’s intention to continue to release Call of Duty games on PlayStation, analysis that Xbox Game Pass is just a way for gamers to pay for games, Sony’s own competitive subscription services, etc.
Both mega-corporations are placing a particular emphasis on Call of Duty games coming to Xbox Game Pass. It’s easy to understand that Microsoft owning Call of Duty and offering it on Xbox Game Pass will be a huge boon – especially if the new titles might enjoy some sort of exclusivity or early access with the service.
Of course, this could hurt Sony in the long run, as Call of Duty is hugely popular on PlayStation platforms.
But this does not necessarily mean that Microsoft’s acquisition is anti-competitive. There will always be new games, and even if Xbox becomes more popular in the coming years while PlayStation declines, this is normal in the industry.
However, the impact of this conflict on Microsoft’s takeover attempts is another matter entirely.