Things have been going Microsoft’s way in recent weeks. The UK CMA recently released an updated provisional finding that concludes there is no significant reduction in competition should Microsoft withhold Call of Duty from other consoles. Now, the company's cause has made headway in the east as well.
The Japanese Fair Trade Commission recently released a statement saying that it has "reviewed the transaction and reached the conclusion that [it] is unlikely to result in substantially restraining competition in any particular fields of trade."
The statement adds, "Accordingly, the JFTC has notified the Parties that the JFTC will not issue a cease and desist order, resulting in the completion of its review." This essentially means that Microsoft will have no obstacles from Japanese authorities.
The JFTC stated that the deal did not violate its anti-competition legislature. According to the competition regulator, "the integration falls under the safe harbor criteria for vertical business combinations."
The competition regulator concludes that the merger would not result in a shortage of supply on rival platforms. "There are competing businesses, and games are distributed in digital format, so it is unlikely that there will be a shortage of supply capacity," the JFTC notes.
The statement concludes, "Therefore, the acquisition would not substantially restrain competition in any particular fields of trade." Japan joins Brazil and Saudi Arabia as countries that have approved the proposed acquisition. However, the deal is still being investigated by the US, the UK, and the European Union.
Xbox has had a hard time selling consoles in Japan. The PlayStation has consistently outsold the Xbox over the years and it hasn’t even been close. However, Sony is not the dominant player in the Japanese gaming market. Nintendo has outsold both the Sony and Microsoft consoles over the years, with the Switch being the third best-selling console of all time.
The approval comes on the heels of news that members of the US Congress want to have Sony investigated for unfair business practices against Xbox. Eleven US lawmakers recently asked the Biden Administration to investigate the console maker’s "blatant anti-competitive conduct through exclusive deals and payments to game publishers."
The latest developments compound Sony’s woes as it tries to block the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. Recently, the US FTC ordered Sony to reveal its third-party exclusivity deals after Microsoft subpoenaed the information as it builds its defense arguments.
Microsoft initially requested information regarding the exclusivity agreements from 2012 up to the present. However, the FTC ruled that only information from 2019 and up should be provided in relation to the case.
The UK CMA has until April 26 to rule on the merger while the US FTC will have its first hearing in August.