Activision’s latest merger update: new Sony allegations, Microsoft’s COD plans for Nintendo, more

The fight over the Activision merger deal continues. Most of the latest developments in the merger focus on new concerns from Sony and the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which continues to echo these issues.

Sony’s new accusations

Despite repeated guarantees, concessions and proposed written agreements, Sony accused Microsoft of possibly engaging in anti-competitive actions when the agreement is finalized. According to documents recently released by CMA, Sony claims that there is a possibility that Microsoft will inject bugs into Obligations.

“Microsoft could release a version of Call of Duty for PlayStation where bugs and glitches emerge only in the final level of the game or after subsequent updates,” Sony told CMA in its statement. “Even if such downgrades could be detected quickly, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to place to play Call of Duty.”

Interestingly, Sony also claimed that the rival has not reached out to offer solutions regarding concerns related to the deal.

“In the interim period, Microsoft has not shown any real commitment to reach a negotiated outcome,” said the document read “They have delayed, engaged only when they felt the regulatory landscape was darkening, and favored negotiating with the media over engaging with SIE (Sony).”

Sony’s claims are in direct conflict with the actual moves that Microsoft and Activision have taken and continue to make to clarify concerns. For example, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said the company made calls to Sony, but none of them were returned by Sony. Furthermore, the public has always been aware of Microsoft’s repeated efforts to offer Sony a 10-year deal involving COD. Lulu Cheng MeserveyActivision Blizzard’s executive vice president brought it up recently in a tweet, saying that Sony “refused” to accept the offers.

“Microsoft offered Sony (the dominant console leader for over a decade, with an 80% market share) a 10-year deal on far better terms than Sony would ever get from us,” Meservey shared. “We have also offered Sony guaranteed long-term access to Call of Duty. But they keep refusing. Because? The general director of SIE answered that question in Brussels. In his words: ‘I don’t want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.’”

Microsoft’s continuing efforts

After CMA’s concerns regarding the quality of COD in nintendo switch surfaced, it is now revealed that Microsoft explained the situation to the British regulator. In the document, the software company mentioned an optimization solution to bring COD to Switch. These are the two relevant points on the matter highlighted by Microsoft in the document.

  • CoD includes both the free-to-play title Warzone and buy-to-play releases. The game engine that powers Warzone is mature and has been optimized to run on a wide range of hardware devices (from the Xbox One console released in 2015 to Xbox Series X). Warzone supports PC hardware with GPU cards that were released in 2015 (meaning before the Nintendo Switch was released in 2017).
  • The Activision development team has a long history of optimizing game performance for available hardware capabilities. The parties are confident that, in addition to Warzone, CoD buy-to-play titles (for example, CoD: Modern Warfare 2) can be optimized to run on Nintendo Switch in a timely manner using standard techniques that have been used to bring games such as like Apex Legends, DOOM Eternal, Fortnite, and Crysis 3 for Switch. Activision estimates that this could be done with a period of around months (redacted).

As usual, the license agreement that Microsoft offers to Sony was mentioned along with the right to offer COD on PlayStation Plus.

Microsoft walking extra miles

In addition to continually convincing different regulators, Microsoft also wants to educate the public about the benefits of the merger for the gaming industry and consumers in Britain. With this, in addition to having a dedicated page Detailing the deal, Microsoft has now put details of the benefits of the merger in announcements via the Financial Times and Daily Mail. Despite this, it’s important to note that CMA has already shared that 75% of the British public approves Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion Activision merger.

“Of the 2,100 emails we reviewed, about three-quarters were broadly in favor of the Merger and about a quarter were broadly against the Merger,” the CMA said last year.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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