Battlefield is being stuck in the middle as Sony works valiantly to convince regulators to stop Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In a document submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s competition watchdog, Sony claims that Call of Duty is a uniquely significant franchise to have on PlayStation systems and that it cannot be replaced by games like Battlefield. If Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved, it would have ownership over the franchise.
Call of Duty is not replicable. Call of Duty is too entrenched for any rival, no matter how well equipped, to catch up. It has been the top-selling game for almost every year in the last decade and, in the first-person shooter (‘FPS’) genre, it is overwhelmingly the top-selling game.
Other publishers do not have the resources or expertise to match its success. To give a concrete example, Electronic Arts — one of the largest third-party developers after Activision — has tried for many years to produce a rival to Call of Duty with its Battlefield series. Despite the similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield — and despite EA’s track record in developing other successful AAA franchises (such as FIFA, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Star Wars: Battlefront) — the Battlefield franchise cannot keep up.
As of August 2021, more than 400 million Call of Duty games had been sold, while Battlefield had sold just 88.7 million copies.”
When corporate attorneys and regulators disagree about who should or shouldn’t be permitted to purchase whom, arguments like this are common. However, it’s strange to see a company transition from marketing to roasting.
Battlefield 2042’s release “did not meet expectations,” according to EA, even though Activision’s franchise recently saw its largest opening weekend ever. Sony is opposing Microsoft holding the Call of Duty franchise in the first place, despite Microsoft’s claim that it wants to retain Call of Duty games on PlayStation “as long as there is a PlayStation out there to ship to.”
The US Federal Trade Commission is apparently interested in looking into Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard more closely, in addition to the UK’s CMA and the European Commission, which is already looking into the deal. It implies that the deal might not be prepared to close for several months.