As antitrust watchdogs from several nations examine Xbox proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Sony is on edge. Sony’s official comments to Brazil’s investigation were only made public this past weekend, and it is obvious that the business is concerned about a particular intellectual property.
Idas, a participant in the online gaming community ResetEra, discovered on Sunday that Brazil is legally compelled to maintain open access to its regulatory reviews. Several significant IT firms, including Ubisoft, Riot Games, Google, Apple, and Sony, were asked for their opinions on the acquisition by Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), which is known locally. The previous businesses appear to be generally unconcerned about the merger, according to Idas, who claims to be a seasoned IT lawyer and native Spanish speaker. Sony, however, has a different viewpoint.
Sony warned the CADE that if Microsoft’s Xbox acquired Call of Duty, which has approximately 100 million players today across many platforms, it might “affect customers’ console decision.” Since Call of Duty is now playable on PlayStation systems 2 through 5, it does not (yet) serve as a threat to gamers who believe they must stick with a single machine. However, if Microsoft buys Activision, it might easily terminate the PlayStation version of the brand as well as other fan favorites like Diablo and Starcraft.
This wasn’t anticipated to be a problem at first. Sony informed the Wall Street Journal that it anticipated Activision games to stay cross-platform owing to “contractual arrangements” when Microsoft first submitted its bid for Activision in January. The CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer, confirmed this anticipation. According to Spencer, “Activision Blizzard games are played on a variety of platforms, and we intend to support those communities moving forward.” However, only the following three Call of Duty games are formally committed to multiplatform compatibility. (This includes the later this year released Modern Warfare 2, for example.)
Idas and the gaming news website VGC did translations, and they claim that Sony considers Call of Duty to be “an essential game: a blockbuster, a AAA-type game that has no rival.” Sony doesn’t believe it can match the resources (i.e., hundreds of millions of dollars and at least 2,700 full-time personnel) needed to produce a legitimate Call of Duty rival. No other developer can invest the same amount of time, money, and knowledge into game production. Even if they were able to do so, Call of Duty is too well-established, making it impossible for any competitors, no matter how relevant, to overtake it.
The CADE was informed by Sony that “considering its intentions to recruit 2,000 additional developers, Activision undoubtedly believes Call of Duty to become even more successful in the future” (so far as projecting some of its sorrow into the future).
Unknown is the extent to which Sony’s worries will affect Brazil’s investigation into the proposed merger. Nevertheless, the merger must clear a number of additional legal obstacles: the UK launched its own investigation earlier this summer, and the US Federal Trade Commission has been examining Microsoft’s offer since February. According to reports, Microsoft also needs approval from regulatory bodies in a number of other nations, including China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.