In yet another setback for Microsoft, ten self-titled “video gamers” have decided to exercise their right to sue the company for “anticompetitive behaviour”. This follows months of Sony campaigning against the deal, as it would give their rivals too much power in the video game market. As well as US market regulators, the Federal Trade Commission, which stepped in just two weeks ago with complaints and filed a case against it.
Video game behemoths like Microsoft and Sony acquiring smaller companies for exclusive rights to their games is certainly not unheard of in the video game industry, but Activision isn’t exactly a small company. The company produces and develops a number of fan-favourite games, chief among them the Call of Duty series.
If the deal goes through, Activision has promised that Call of Duty games will continue to be released on PlayStation consoles, as well as Nintendo consoles, for at least the next ten years. That promise, however, has not done much to assuage the fears of Sony, the FTC, or the general public. They argue that this acquisition would give Microsoft a monopoly, and allow them to harm the competition by “withholding content from competitors” or “manipulating prices” of future titles.
We continue to believe that our deal to acquire Activision Blizzard will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) December 8, 2022
Microsoft and Activision heads believe the opposite, however, and hope the deal will close as planned.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wrote in regard to the FTC investigation, “This sounds alarming, so I want to reinforce my confidence that this deal will close. The allegation that this deal is anti-competitive doesn’t align with the facts, and we believe we’ll win this challenge”.
While Vice Chair and President at Microsoft, Brad Smith, stated that he believed the “deal to acquire Activision Blizzard will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers”.
And finally, Microsoft Gaming CEO, Phil Spencer, voiced his concerns by stating Sony “seeks to grow by making Xbox smaller”.
Despite promises made on either side, this is an argument that seemingly cannot be settled civilly. Microsoft and Activision shall continue to push for the deal to go through, and Sony and others shall continue to push against it. This latest legal case may not have much of a leg to stand on legally, but it shows just how concerned certain groups are becoming and the lengths they’d go to see this deal fall through. And it certainly won’t be the last.