Microsoft’s proposed purchase of Activision Blizzard has encountered significant opposition from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the European Union Commission (EUC). The FTC has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, while the EUC is preparing a charge sheet against the two companies.
Recently, Sony Interactive Entertainment President, Jim Ryan, met with EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager in Brussels to discuss Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The details of the meeting have not been disclosed, but it is common practice for competitors to provide insights into deals of this nature, and any statements made during the meeting will be made public and will be a factor in the regulator’s decision. The EU Commission has set an April 26th deadline to decide on the fate of the deal.
In response to the meeting, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Communications Frank X. Shaw accused Sony of lying to the EU Commission. Shaw stated in a series of tweets that “nothing could be further from the truth” in regard to Sony’s statements to the regulatory body. Shaw stated that Microsoft has offered Sony a ten-year deal to provide them with parity on timing, content, features, quality, playability, and any other aspect of the game. He added that Microsoft is willing to enforce this agreement through a contract, regulatory agreements, or other means.
I hear Sony is briefing people in Brussels claiming Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
— Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) January 28, 2023
Shaw continued by saying that, as the console market leader, it would defy business logic for Microsoft to exclude PlayStation gamers from the Call of Duty ecosystem. The goal of Microsoft is to bring Call of Duty and other games to more people around the world so they can play them wherever and however they want.
Microsoft initially offered Sony a three-year contract to keep Call of Duty on the PlayStation platform upon the completion of the merger and the expiration of the current deal between Sony and Activision Blizzard. Sony called the proposed deal “inadequate on many levels” and failed to take into account the impact on gamers.
A new offer was extended to Sony for ten years, with both sides meeting to discuss the terms, but the parties were unable to reach an agreement. Sony has become the most vocal opponent of the Microsoft – Activision Blizzard deal, with Nvidia and Google recently expressing their concerns to the FTC regarding the deal.
Microsoft has repeatedly stated that it is not in its best interest to withhold Call of Duty from the largest console platform. Microsoft has, however, made Redfall and Starfield Xbox-exclusive titles after taking over Zenimax. Bethesda, a Zenimax subsidiary, has created cross-platform games prior to being acquired by Microsoft. Microsoft has until July to finalize the deal before paying a substantial fine and renegotiating the terms of the acquisition.