Microsoft has invested in Activision Blizzard games in a bid to boost its planned acquisition of the mega publisher.
After the tech giant announced its intention to buy Activision Blizzard earlier this year, competition regulators began scrutinizing the purchase. in a recent release request (opens in new tab) submitted to the New Zealand Trade Commission, Microsoft tried to justify the takeover by deliberately taking down Activision Blizzard games (thanks, RockPaperShotgun (opens in new tab)).
“As far as Activision Blizzard video games are concerned, there is nothing unique about video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard that is ‘must-have’ for rival PC and console video game distributors that could give rise to a foreclosure concern,” said to Microsoft. said in the order.
It’s a slightly amusing justification for the purchase. Microsoft will be keen to show regulators that the planned acquisition of one of the world’s largest video game publishers will not substantially harm market competition or consumers. It’s done that here, blowing up Activision Blizzard’s games – announcing the very IPs it wants to buy for a whopping $68 million.
But regulators may not be so easily swayed. Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the battle royale spin-off series 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 that Call of Duty would grant Microsoft over the entire industry. He described Call of Duty as “an essential game” and an “unrivaled triple-A type” (translated by Google).
“Call of Duty is so popular that it influences users’ choice of console,” Sony said. “Its network of loyal users is so ingrained that even if a competitor had the budget to develop a similar product, it would not be able to compete. [Call of Duty].”
Sony went on to cite an unnamed 2019 study, citing it as being: “The importance of Call of Duty to entertainment in general is indescribable. The brand was the only video game IP to break into the top 10 of all entertainment brands among fanatics, joining powerhouses like Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.”
In its response to the New Zealand Trade Commission, Microsoft again reiterated its commitment not to pull content from rival platforms such as the PS5, PS4 or any future PlayStation consoles. He previously said he plans to honor any existing agreements to make Activision Blizzard games cross-platform. Notably, however, it didn’t explicitly say that Activision’s upcoming games, including Call of Duty, won’t be Xbox and PC exclusives.
Microsoft and the rest of the gaming industry are now waiting for competition regulators to complete their analysis. But the business could face an inquisition.