In January 2022, Microsoft confirmed a $70 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard along with its major cash-cow, Call of Duty. The Microsoft Activision buyout has big implications for the gaming industry, and Playstation owner Sony has some major concerns – including about Xbox Game Pass, too.
As posted by Idas on Resetera, who claims he is a specialist in IT Law, the Microsoft Activision deal has to be approved by regulators from over the world – including the UK, which we know about. Brazil, which began its investigation in May, apparently seeks opinions from third parties in deals like this – and with how transparent Brazil is about this information, we now know what publishers think of the Activision acquisition.
As translated by Idas (and verified by PCGamesN), Sony’s comments about the deal show particular concern. Sony agrees that all games compete for player engagement and that no triple-A publishers out there could create a franchise to rival Activision and Call of Duty, which it calls a “gaming category” all of its own. Call of Duty cannot be rivaled or replaced and is so popular that it influences people’s choice of console, according to the publisher.
Sony also has concerns about subscription services such as Game Pass, after its own Playstation Plus service chose not to offer first-party games on launch. Sony believes such services are “anti-competitive” towards publishers who recoup its investments in games by selling them upfront – like itself. It states that this could reduce the quality of games.
Nevertheless, much like Call of Duty, Sony comments that it could take years for a competitor to Game Pass to emerge. It also notes that Call of Duty is an “important revenue stream” for Playstation, one of Sony’s biggest from a third-party publisher.
Of course, Sony has its own acquisition to worry about too, as it just bought Destiny 2 developer, Bungie. As for all the developments regarding the ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuits, this explainer article will help you catch up.