There is a lot of regulatory pushback Microsoft is getting from the UK, Europe, and the United States over its Activision Blizzard acquisition. However, Sony is also completely against the deal, with most of the debate resting on Activision's Call of Duty franchise. Despite Microsoft saying it will keep CoD games cross-platform, Sony says it doubts its rival's intentions.
In documents to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sony says it thinks Microsoft will make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox Game Pass and raise the price of the game. Microsoft has consistently argued it has no intention of keeping CoD exclusive to Xbox. The company says there is more value in the franchise remaining cross-platform.
To emphasize its stance, the company has reached a 10-year agreement to keep Call of Duty on Nvidia's GeForce Now while also on Nintendo consoles. Still, it seems these commitments are not enough for Sony. The company even argues Microsoft will purposely degrade the performance and quality of CoD games on PlayStation.
In fact, the Sony argues Microsoft will release Call of Duty games with bugs and errors on the PS5:
“Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game's final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty. Indeed, as Modern Warfare II attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game's performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue.”
It's Not About Call of Duty
Sony is obviously very worried about Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The company is making it clear that its objections rest a lot on Call of Duty. However, Lulu Cheng Meservey, EVP for Activision Blizzard, says Sony simply wants to block the merger regardless of what will happen with CoD.
Microsoft offered Sony (the dominant console leader for well over a decade, with 80% market share) a 10 year agreement on far better terms than Sony would ever get from us.
We've also offered Sony guaranteed long-term access to Call of Duty.
But they keep refusing.
— Lulu Cheng Meservey (@lulumeservey) March 8, 2023
Microsoft has offered Sony the same 10-year agreement it gave Nintendo. However, Sony keeps rejecting it and Meservey says Sony CEO Jim Ryan told Microsoft, “I don't want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.”
“Microsoft offered Sony (the dominant console leader for well over a decade, with 80% market share) a 10 year agreement on far better terms than Sony would ever get from us,” Meservey tweeted. “We've also offered Sony guaranteed long-term access to Call of Duty. But they keep refusing. Why? The CEO of SIE answered that question in Brussels. In his words: ‘I don't want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.'”
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