According to recent reports, Microsoft is planning to make favors to the regulatory bodies of the EU shortly to assist move through with its planned purchase of Activision Blizzard. Reuters cites unnamed sources who claim that Microsoft’s sweeteners will primarily take the form of a 10-year licensing deal with Sony, the company that makes the PlayStation.
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has expressed confidence that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will contest Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In a newly disclosed response to the CMA’s statement, Sony remains confident that the regulator would determine that the combination is likely to materially reduce competition and should, thus, be disallowed.
According to Sony, after the deal, “Microsoft would have the power and incentive to exclude or hinder rivals, including PlayStation and PlayStation Plus, from providing access to Call of Duty.” Microsoft allegedly made an offer to Sony that would have kept the Call of Duty franchise on the PlayStation for ten years. Sony says that the CMA found out during its first investigation that 30–40% of all console gaming minutes in the UK are spent playing Activision and Microsoft games. Sony claims that if Microsoft were to gain sole control over Activision’s intellectual property, it would harm consumers, competitors, and independent developers alike.
The Activision merger has been given the go-light by regulators in Saudi Arabia and Brazil, but the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom has decided to continue its investigation into a second phase. It is now asking the general public for feedback on the acquisition to gather everyone’s thoughts before reaching a final decision.
As a consequence of criticism from a variety of IT behemoths and experts, the projected merger deal between Activision and Microsoft has run into multiple hurdles. It will be fascinating to see what approach Microsoft takes to this matter.