Activision’s Chief Assures Sony: Call of Duty Will Not Be Withheld if Microsoft Deal Finalizes

Activision Blizzard’s highly popular Call of Duty franchise will continue to be available on Sony Group’s gaming console in the event that Microsoft acquires the videogame company, according to Activision’s CEO. This statement was made during a hearing that will determine the outcome of the $75 billion deal.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick emphasized the importance of keeping Call of Duty accessible on Sony’s PlayStation console, as this would ensure continued engagement with a significant portion of their consumer base.

“Removing Call of Duty from the Sony console would severely damage our reputation,” Kotick stated. “As a company, we have always emphasized our commitment to being multi-platform, and we strive to make our games available on every platform.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the Microsoft acquisition until a decision is reached in the commission’s in-house administrative court. This hearing, presided over by U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in San Francisco, poses a major challenge to the Biden administration’s more aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement. Judge Corley was appointed by President Biden.

The hearing has focused on discussions surrounding the potential impact of Microsoft using the acquisition to gain an unfair advantage by excluding competitors from accessing Activision’s immensely popular videogame franchise. The franchise is widely considered to be one of the most successful in the industry.

If the FTC’s efforts are successful, the merger between Microsoft and Activision would be prevented, potentially causing the deal to collapse entirely. Microsoft has expressed its willingness to abandon the deal if it loses the case, as the FTC’s internal court process, scheduled to begin in August, could extend for several years.

In the event that the FTC fails to secure a ruling in its favor, it may choose to abandon its challenge to the merger to avoid potential unfavorable precedents.

The FTC argues that the deal has the potential to stifle competition, as Microsoft’s control over Call of Duty and other games could allow them to suppress competition, particularly in the rapidly growing cloud-gaming market.

Microsoft counters this argument by stating that the acquisition would actually promote competition, as it would expand the availability of Activision’s games to platforms where they are currently not accessible.

Although regulatory authorities in the European Union, China, and other markets have approved the transaction, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority blocked the deal in April after conducting an extensive investigation.

The hearing is scheduled to conclude on Thursday, with Jim Ryan, the head of Sony Group’s videogaming business, providing a pre-recorded video deposition earlier in the week. Sony’s PlayStation currently holds a larger market share than Microsoft in the console gaming industry and has been one of the deal’s most vocal critics.

Microsoft initially announced its plans to acquire Activision in January of the previous year, valuing the deal at $69 billion after considering the videogame publisher’s net cash.

In December, the FTC filed a lawsuit to block the acquisition. Since then, Microsoft has offered commitments to ensure equal accessibility of Activision games to rival console makers and cloud-gaming companies for a period of ten years. Agreements have already been made with Nintendo, Nvidia, and other organizations. Microsoft has extended a similar offer to Sony.

If the court rejects the FTC’s request for an injunction, the commission may continue its separate in-house lawsuit. However, if a judge denies an injunction, the FTC typically withdraws its opposition to the deal.

Earlier this year, the FTC dropped its in-house court proceedings against Meta Platforms’ acquisition of virtual-reality company Within Unlimited after a judge in San Jose, California denied the agency’s request for an injunction.

 

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