Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard will need to be approved by a number of authorities across the globe, including the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA, which launched its investigation in July, presented a summary of its preliminary findings in September and urged a more thorough examination. According to Ars Technica, a Phase 2 probe might result in a merger being prohibited or compelling the organizations involved to sell portions of a corporation. Microsoft issued a blistering rebuttal (PDF) immediately after the CMA published the entire language of its ruling, accusing the regulator of relying on “self-serving assertions by Sony.”
The tech giant said in its response, which was shared with Ars, that the CMA’s decision was based on concerns that Activision’s collection of titles, notably the Call of Duty brand, would enable Xbox to compete “exclude its rivals
Microsoft dismissed that issue as “misplaced,” claiming that the CMA exaggerates the relevance of Activision Blizzard’s games in terms of competition in the area. It also said that it intends to make Call of Duty more accessible by bringing Activision’s games to its subscription program, Game Pass.
Sony does not like the concept of “more rivalry,” stating that its competitor “protect[s] its earnings” by not making freshly released titles accessible via PlayStation Plus. Microsoft also denied that having Call of Duty accessible on Game Pass would increase the likelihood of customers purchasing an Xbox system. The business said that CoD titles will be available for purchase on PlayStation and that purchasing them would be less expensive than purchasing an Xbox for Game Pass access.
According to Microsoft, the CMA embraced Sony’s allegations “without the required amount of critical assessment.” The claim that the incumbent market leader, with demonstrable and durable market strength, may be foreclosed by the third biggest supplier as a consequence of losing access to one title is not plausible,” the company said. Microsoft said in its answer that it is looking forward to engaging with the CMA during Phase 2, and it seems that the company is committed to helping the regulator realize the merits of the transaction.
In a statement to Reuters, a Sony spokeswoman reiterated the company’s position, calling the contract “unfair.” “This is terrible for competition, the gaming industry, and gamers themselves.
“Microsoft’s purchase would offer the Xbox ecosystem a “unique mix of innovation and content,” they argued, giving the tech behemoth a dominating position in gaming with “devastating ramifications for customers, independent developers, and Sony itself.”