- Sony has asked UK regulators to force Microsoft to sell off the Call of Duty franchise if they are approved to acquire Activision Blizzard.
- Sony Believes that Microsoft’s ownership of the franchise is anti-competitive.
- Alternatively, Sony has asked for the deal to be terminated.
Sony has reportedly asked the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to consider blocking Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard, according to Bloomberg. Sony has asked that if the deal were to be accepted by UK authorities, then Microsoft would have to divest the Call of Duty franchise. Microsoft has said in the past that no deal could happen without Call of Duty (Microsoft did not pay $69 Billion for Candy Crush).
Sony and Microsoft have been locked in a battle over the deal, a battle playing out on multiple continents. Sony sees the deal as being anti-competitive, as Microsoft’s ownership of the COD franchise could mean Microsoft pulling it from PlayStation devices.
Microsoft has offered remedies to please regulators. These include licensing deals with other platform owners such as Nvidia and Nintendo with promises to bring the Call of Duty franchise to more devices and systems. Sony has reportedly rejected any type of remedy or proposal for a deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation devices.
Back in February, Sony Interactive Entertainment boss Jim Ryan reportedly told Microsoft and Activision executives that he wishes to block the deal from happening. Playstation is Xbox’s biggest competitor, and
The idea of Microsoft selling off some of Activision’s assets isn’t a new one. The CMA themselves had suggested in a provisional report that Microsoft divest some of its assets if would seek to acquire Activision Blizzard. The CMAs findings in the report stated that Microsoft would become too powerful in the cloud gaming market with Activision Blizzard IP available on Xcloud.
These requests from Sony are unrealistic. As Microsoft has stated, the deal will not happen with Call of Duty out of the picture. If regulators forced Microsoft to sell off the IP only, it would be a disaster for future COD titles. A game switching its developer is a nightmare scenario, and Activision has thousands working on Call of Duty alone. You cannot easily train thousands of new devs to work on such a big IP.
It seems more likely that regulators would suggest selling off the IP as well as the studios that develop COD. This too is unthinkable to Microsoft. Call of Duty is the bread and butter of not only Activision Blizzard but the deal itself. Microsoft did not plan to buy ATVI for Candy Crush, Crash Bandicoot, or Guitar Hero. Selling off the COD franchise is something the company would never consider.
If Microsoft is forced to divest COD, then the deal is dead. Activision Blizzard has no other IP worth $69 Billion. The company would not be satisfied with only Overwatch, Diablo, and what other IP is left over with Call of Duty out of the picture.
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