Microsoft has invested in Activision Blizzard’s games to push through its planned acquisition of the mega-publisher.
After the tech giant announced its intention to buy Activision Blizzard earlier this year, antitrust regulators have begun investigating the buyout. In a recent approval request (opens in new tab) filed with the New Zealand Commerce Commission, Microsoft attempted to justify the acquisition by deliberately beating Activision Blizzard’s games (thanks, RockPaperShotgun (opens in new tab)).
“With regard to Activision Blizzard video games, there is nothing unique about the video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard, which is a must-have for rival PC and console video game distributors that could give rise to foreclosure,” Microsoft said. . said in the application.
It’s a somewhat funny justification for the buyout. Microsoft will be happy to show regulators that its planned acquisition of one of the largest video game publishers in the world will not materially harm market competition or consumers. It’s done that here by blowing up Activision Blizzard’s games – the IPs it wants to buy for a whopping $68 million.
But regulators may not be so easy to influence. Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the series’ Battle Royale spin-off Call of Duty: Warzone 2 are expected to be among the biggest games of the year.
Speaking to Brazil’s Regulatory Body in a Recent Report (opens in new tab), Sony emphasized the dominance Call of Duty would give Microsoft over the entire industry. It described Call of Duty as “an essential game” and a “triple-A type that has no rival” (translated via Google).
“Call of Duty is so popular that it influences users’ console choice,” Sony says. “The network of loyal users is so entrenched that even if a competitor had the budget to develop a similar product, it would not be able to compete with [Call of Duty].”
Sony went on to quote an undisclosed 2019 study, citing it as saying, “The importance of Call of Duty for entertainment in general is indescribable. The brand was the only video game IP to make it into the top 10 of all entertainment brands among fanatics.” , joining powerhouses such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings.
In its response to the New Zealand Trade Commission, Microsoft reiterated its commitment not to withdraw content from rival platforms, such as the PS5, PS4 or any future PlayStation console. It previously said it plans to honor existing agreements to make Activision Blizzard games multiplatform. It’s worth noting, though, that it hasn’t been explicitly stated that upcoming Activision games, including Call of Duty, won’t eventually be made exclusive to Xbox and PC exclusives.
Microsoft and the rest of the games industry will now wait for the competition authorities to finalize their assessments. But the deal could face an inquisition.