Microsoft, the owner of Xbox, has responded to claims that its plan to buy the company that makes Call of Duty may have an unfair impact on its competitors, including Sony, the owner of PlayStation.
Microsoft has expressed interest in purchasing Activision Blizzard for a total price of $68.7 billion, which is equivalent to £59.2 billion.
According to the UK watchdog investigating the plan, Microsoft may be able to “out-compete” its competitors by using Activision games.
Microsoft stated that it remained optimistic that the transaction would be finalized by June 2023.
The authorities in charge of regulating competition in Saudi Arabia and Brazil have already given their blessing.
But earlier this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made the announcement that it would be requesting an impartial panel to investigate the proposal.
The Call of Duty franchise has garnered the interest of millions of players, and Activision Blizzard is one of the world’s most successful video game developers and publishers.
The CMA also suggested that purchasing it could enable Microsoft to monopolize popular games like Call of Duty by making them accessible primarily on Xbox consoles, personal computers, and Game Pass, the company’s cloud gaming service.
In a detailed account of its decision to launch an in-depth investigation published today, the CMA says that “Call of Duty is sufficiently important that losing access to it (or losing access on competitive terms) could significantly impact Sony’s revenues and user base.” [Call of Duty is] “sufficiently important that losing access to it (or losing access on competitive terms) could significantly impact Sony’s revenues and user base.” [Call of Duty
In addition to this, the report stated that “Microsoft has followed this approach in several past acquisitions of gaming studios, where it made future game releases from those studios exclusive in consoles to Xbox.”
Microsoft has stated that it is committed to maintaining the availability of Activision’s previously released games on the PlayStation platform. This includes Call of Duty.
On the other hand, upcoming titles might be handled differently.
Mojang, the company that created Minecraft, and Bethesda, the company that made Fallout and Skyrim, are two of the 23 game companies that Microsoft already owns.
The upcoming Bethesda game Starfield will now only be available on the Xbox One and the PC, and the CMA has speculated that this may also be the case for the upcoming Elder Scrolls VI release from the developer, based on statements made publicly by Microsoft.
According to Microsoft:
2021 saw the release of 280 games available exclusively on the PlayStation platform; Sony claims that independent developers developed many of these. Despite this, Sony has decided to prevent users on the PlayStation platform from accessing the Games Pass service.
Candy Crush Saga is one of the most played mobile games, but Microsoft does not have any mobile gaming content. Activision is the owner of this game.
The Consumer Manufacturers Association (CMA) is taking Sony’s side “without the appropriate level of critical review” and “over-estimating” the ability of Call of Duty to single-handedly disrupt the video game industry.
Furthermore, in a report, Microsoft referred to the CMA’s concerns as “a novel theory of harm, unsupported by precedent, economic literature, or the evidence.”
In a statement, Sony expressed the company’s view that the transaction is “bad for competition, bad for the gaming industry, and bad for gamers themselves.”
According to the report, “This deal would give Microsoft’s Xbox ecosystem a unique combination of technology and content, and therefore a dominant position in gaming, with devastating consequences for customers, independent developers, and Sony itself.”