In 2021 Microsoft announced their intentions to purchase Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, and now, over a year later, it is still undergoing regulatory scrutiny. As the investigation continues, strange events have begun to crop up in the process. One such event is the accusation by Activision’s chief communications officer that Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan refused to consider an agreement that would keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for another ten years in an effort to sabotage the merger between the two companies.
Crawling Toward Conclusion
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is still being scrutinized by regulators, over a year after it was announced. The process seems to be moving slowly, but in recent months, things have started to get more complicated and, in some cases, even silly. One such incident is Activision’s chief communications officer accusing Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan of attempting to sabotage the merger by refusing a ten-year agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.
The tech behemoths are fighting for position in the global gaming market by working the refs. The UK’s Competition and Market Authority has been accused of being biased towards Sony’s interests. The UK suggested buying every part of Activision Blizzard, except for the Call of Duty franchise. Microsoft has been responding with proposals to keep the blockbuster franchise on PlayStation for at least ten years, while putting it on Switch. Sony countered with claims that there was nothing that could stop Call of Duty from being buggier on PlayStation than Xbox if Microsoft bought the franchise. Microsoft disputes this. Meanwhile, in the EU, Microsoft has seemed poised to prevail, while the US Federal Trade Commission is still preparing its antitrust lawsuit.
The regulatory process has been illuminating and helpful to some extent, forcing companies to reveal things that would previously have remained confidential. For example, it has been disclosed that some sales have been cannibalized on Xbox due to Game Pass, and that Sony doesn’t believe Electronic Arts’ Battlefield can compete with Call of Duty. Unfortunately, it has also been a ridiculous sideshow mostly revolving around a single game and a few metrics such as console market share.
A Risky Guess
Despite the popularity and profitability of the Call of Duty franchise, video games have shown time and again how unpredictable they can be. The Xbox 360 initially outsold the PS3, but the PS4 ultimately outsold the Xbox One. After many thought Nintendo would go bankrupt after the Wii U, the Switch became their most successful console. Instead of buying Activision Blizzard, perhaps Microsoft should create the Nintendo Switch’s successor, the Switch 2.
The Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger is still under regulatory scrutiny. Activision has accused Sony of attempting to sabotage the deal, and the competition between the two tech giants has resulted in some absurd scenarios. Nevertheless, Microsoft has proposed keeping the Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation and putting it on Switch, while Sony has countered with claims that it could be buggier on PlayStation if Microsoft purchased the franchise. The regulatory process has been both enlightening and ridiculous, with the focus mostly on a single game and a few metrics. Nevertheless, video games have demonstrated repeatedly that they are a risky and unpredictable business, and making a successor to the Switch with Microsoft may be a safer bet.