UK government argues that Microsoft has incentives to block Sony’s access to Call of Duty

oh nooooooo

The big money acquisition of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft has been running afoul of the UK government for the better part of a month now, as the country’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been scrutinizing the deal and its impact on competition as far back as September, when the government body suggested the investigation move to a second phase.

The sticking point appears to be related to Call of Duty and platform exclusivity, particularly in the case of Sony and its continued ability to house the franchise on PlayStation – a franchise that Microsoft promised would still be available on the console.

The CMA has since released an issues statement that continues to raise concerns about the merger and further rejects Microsoft’s arguments in favor of the deal, pointing to prior acquisitions that ultimately meant that games would be exclusive to Microsoft and accusing the company of having an “incentive to foreclose Sony” from the COD franchise.

“Microsoft’s past business practices suggest that it may be willing to make losses in the short term in order to build scale and increase its user base,” reads part of the report. “[The CMA] did not identify any persuasive evidence that Microsoft would be deterred from engaging in total or partial foreclosure strategies by the prospect of reputational damage to Xbox or [Call of Duty].”

source: CMA, (1, 2)
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize¬†and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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