Microsoft’s proposed purchase of Activision Blizzard has bogged down as it is facing stiff opposition from the US Federal Trade Commission and the European Union Commission. The FTC has sued Microsoft and Activision Blizzard over the deal while the EU Commission is preparing a charge sheet against the two companies.
In the acquisition's most recent development, Sony Interactive Entertainment President, Jim Ryan, has reportedly met with the EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday in Brussels to discuss Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Reuters' sources refused to divulge what was discussed by the parties during the meeting.
Vestager currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and EU Commissioner for Competition. The Danish politician has been the commissioner of the EU competition regulatory body since 2014.
It is common practice for competitors to give insights into deals like this. The statements made during the meeting will be made public and should be a part of the regulator’s decision. The EU Commission has set a deadline of April 26 to announce the deal’s fate.
While we do not officially know what was discussed during the meeting, a Microsoft executive has accused Sony of lying to the EU Commission. Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Communications Frank X. Shaw said in a series of tweets said that "nothing could be further from the truth", pertaining to Sony’s statements to the regulatory body.
"I hear Sony is briefing people in Brussels claiming that Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision. Nothing could be further from the truth," Shaw tweeted. "We’ve been clear we’ve offered Sony a 10 year deal to give them parity on timing, content, features, quality, playability, and any other aspect of the game. We’ve also said we’re happy to make this enforceable through a contract, regulatory agreements, or other means."
"Sony is the console market leader and it would defy business logic for us to exclude PlayStation gamers from the Call of Duty ecosystem," Shaw continues. "Our goal is to bring Call of Duty and other games – as we did with Minecraft – to more people around the world so they can play them where and how they want."
We’ve been clear we’ve offered Sony a 10 year deal to give them parity on timing, content, features, quality, playability, and any other aspect of the game.
We’ve also said we’re happy to make this enforceable through a contract, regulatory agreements, or other means.
— Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) January 28, 2023
Microsoft initially offered Sony a three-year contract to keep Call of Duty on the PlayStation platform upon the completion of the merger and the expiration of the current deal between Sony and Activision Blizzard. Sony called the proposed deal as "inadequate on many levels and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers."
Microsoft extended a new offer to Sony for ten years with both sides meeting to discuss the terms. However, the parties did not come to terms during the negotiations. Sony has become the most vocal opposition to the Microsoft – Activision Blizzard deal. Nvidia and Google have recently voiced their concerns to the FTC regarding the deal.
Microsoft has repeatedly said that it is not in its best interest to withhold Call of Duty from the biggest console platform. The tech giant has, however, made Redfall and Starfield Microsoft exclusive titles after purchasing Zenimax. Bethesda, a Zenimax subsidiary, has developed cross-platform games prior to being acquired by Microsoft.
Microsoft has until July to finalize the deal before paying a hefty fine and renegotiating the terms of the acquisition.