The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has today revealed its investigation into Microsoft’s proposed purchase of Call of Duty maker Activision requires more time in a “phase two” study. The initial findings have raised concerns about how “Microsoft could use its control over popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft post-merger to harm rivals, including recent and future rivals in multi-game subscription services and cloud gaming”.
If the authority’s concerns aren’t addressed, it will move on to the aforementioned “phase two investigation” where it will “reach a decision that works in the interests of UK gamers and businesses”. The worries are pointed at how Microsoft could refuse access to Activision games for current and new companies in the gaming industry, or provide “access on much worse terms”.
In the short term, the CMA believes Sony would be most affected by the buyout due to sharing a lot of the same content and target market. It also notes how since Sony has a larger market share in the UK than Microsoft, this may “significantly impact Sony’s revenues and user base. This impact is likely to be felt especially at the launch of the next generation of consoles, where gamers make fresh decisions about which console to buy. The CMA believes that the Merger could, therefore, significantly weaken Microsoft’s closest rival, to the detriment of overall competition in console gaming.”
Microsoft has published a response on its official website where it reiterates its commitment to ensuring future Call of Duty games launch on PlayStation platforms on the same day they do elsewhere. “We’ve heard that this deal might take franchises like Call of Duty away from the places where people currently play them. That’s why, as we’ve said before, we are committed to making the same version of Call of Duty available on PlayStation on the same day the game launches elsewhere.”
The firm likens the acquisition to its previous purchase of Minecraft developer Mojang. The PlayStation versions of the game have always been supported with updates ever since the buyout, and new games like Minecraft Dungeons have gotten PS4 editions. Upcoming strategy title Minecraft Legends is also launching for PS5, PS4.
Elsewhere in the statement, Phil Spencer confirms Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch will all be heading to Game Pass as long as the $69 billion deal goes through. “We will continue to engage with regulators with a spirit of transparency and openness as they review this acquisition. We respect and welcome the hard questions that are being asked.”
[source gov.uk, via blogs.microsoft.com]