Why is it important: The main concern with Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is the potential effect of Call of Duty becoming an Xbox and Windows exclusive. Sony recently raised these concerns with the Brazilian competition regulator. The company’s comments highlight what it believes really makes a AAA game.
sony has voiced its concerns about Microsoft Activision’s deal with the Administrative Council for Economic Defense of Brazil (CADE), one of many competition regulators around the world scrutinizing the purchase for anti-competitive behavior. If Activision stops releasing Call of Duty games for the PlayStation, Sony doesn’t think it can replace the franchise with its own game.
Microsoft’s agreement to buy Activision Blizzard – its largest recent acquisition – is under review by the US Federal Trade Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority and more than a dozen other regulators in countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea. and Brazil.
Brazilian CADE releases information from its investigations accessible, including interviews with various gaming companies about how acquisitions could impact the entire industry. The documents are in Brazilian Portuguese, but a Resetera poster claiming to be an IT lawyer offered a short translation.
Sony has told CADE that while Call of Duty-scale AAA games can be made by several other companies such as itself, EA, Take-Two, or Epic Games, none of them can reproduce Call of Duty. The PlayStation maker believes that the Call of Duty fanbase is so entrenched that even if another publisher made a similar game, it would not be able to replicate the Call of Duty brand.
Sony also believes that the Call of Duty exclusive will influence buyers’ choice of console. The company admits that the series is one of the biggest sources of revenue from third-party publishers on the PlayStation, but is editing the exact numbers so it’s not clear how much money Sony could lose if it loses Call of Duty.
Microsoft has promised that all Activision Blizzard multi-platform projects currently in development will remain so upon release. This includes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II – launching October 28 – Warzone 2, Diablo 4 and more upcoming games. This is not surprising, since other important Microsoft acquisitions, such as Minecraft, still support non-Microsoft platforms.
In February, Microsoft said it would not necessarily keep future titles exclusive to Xbox and Windows, including Call of Duty. This week it repeated it’s related to New Zealand’s competition regulator. However, it stated that none of Activision Blizzard’s franchises would be indispensable if they left the platforms of Microsoft’s competitors.
In addition to the warning from Sony, CADE has received responses from companies such as Warner Bros., Ubisoft, Nuuvem, Bandai Namco, Apple, Riot Games, Amazon, Google and Meta regarding the acquisition of Microsoft. Google believes that Activision Blizzard games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft can be replaced, citing Battlefield and Lost Ark as relevant rivals, and Riot agrees. These companies also shared their views on what the gaming market is made up of and where PCs, consoles and mobile devices compete.
Deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard could Receive approval in August.