By: Nick Gambino
Microsoft announced their intent to acquire Activision Blizzard in January and has been in a knock-down, drag-out fight with Sony ever since over Activision’s – and perhaps gaming’s – biggest title, Call of Duty. Sony claims the $68 billion deal will make Microsoft a monopoly of sorts or at least would fundamentally change the gaming landscape.
Microsoft of course has hit back. “We’re not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation,” Phil Spencer said on the Same Brain YouTube channel. “That’s not our intent. Our intent is not to do that and as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we’ll continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation. Similar to what we’ve done with Minecraft since we owned that.”
The company doubled down on this when speaking to The New York Times recently where they claimed they even offered Sony a ten-year deal to keep COD on PlayStation.
To be clear, it’s not only Sony that’s concerned about the acquisition. This is not just a case of competitor jealousy, though it could also be that. To date there are sixteen regulatory bodies investigating the deal, according to NME. That includes the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK. The CMA is tasked with regulating competition so nobody gets too big and monopolizes the field.
Sony submitted a filing to CMA contesting the morality of Microsoft acquiring Activision. And Call of Duty is the hill they have chosen to die on.
“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,” Sony’s filing with CMAreads. “Despite the similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield, the Battlefield franchise cannot keep up.”
It’s a bit strange that they’d call out another popular title that appears on their console, but these legal spats tend to get ugly. In the filing, they also offered some sales figures to back up this“Battlefield isn’t as cool as Call of Duty” claim – 400 million COD games sold in a year to Battlefield’s 88.7 million.
While Microsoft is definitely moving ahead with acquiring Activision, it’s not done until it’s done, hence Sony’s fight. The deal won’t settle until mid-2023 after it passes all necessary approvals.