An Activision Blizzard executive claims Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO is determined to block the former’s merger with Microsoft, possibly at the cost of PlayStation’s entry into Call of Duty.
Microsoft is currently trying to acquire Activision Blizzard, though it claims it has no plans to make the games exclusive to the Xbox Series X|S. To ensure this and appeal to the UK government’s Competition and Markets Authority, the body that approves corporate mergers that can create unfair monopolies, Microsoft has reportedly offered Sony a ten-year deal to ensure Call of Duty is available on Playstation consoles would continue to appear.
However, This is reported by an Activision director (opens in new tab)Playstation head Jim Ryan declined this offer, saying, “I don’t want another Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.”
Microsoft’s ongoing attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard has been put on hold a lawsuit conducted by the United States Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is there to enforce antitrust laws that try to prevent the formation of monopolies. The FTC filed the lawsuit on the grounds that Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard would “allow Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox game consoles.”
The FTC is not alone in scrutinizing the takeover. The UK government’s own Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). provisionally found that, since the acquisition would make it “commercially advantageous [for Microsoft] to make [Call of Duty] exclusive to Xbox… [the merger] would significantly reduce competition in game consoles to the detriment of gamers.
With these assessments firmly in the public eye, it seems clear why SIE would be keen to avoid the acquisition. But even in this context, Ryan’s alleged statement is surprisingly mercenary in its handling of the Call of Duty franchise in a way that could well complicate the ongoing legal saga.
The Activision executive’s tweet initially came in response to a tweet from Tom Warren (opens in new tab), editor-in-chief at The Verge. In his tweet, Warren tweeted a quote from Sony’s ongoing interactions with the CMA. In the quote, Sony claimed that “Microsoft could release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty with bugs and errors…Even if such degradations could be detected quickly, any remedy would come too late, by which time the gaming community have lost confidence. in PlayStation as the go-to location to play Call of Duty.
In discussions about the potential for Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard to create illegal monopolies, much emphasis has been placed on Call of Duty. Microsoft and Nintendo even closed one historical call of duty agreement where the former pledged to bring the FPS juggernaut to Nintendo consoles to allay concerns from the FTC and other antitrust authorities.
Jim Ryan’s purported statement suggests that Call of Duty could be little more than a means to an end for Sony, a sentiment that reminds us of the cutthroats and mercenaries of the business world. Should Ryan really not want a Call of Duty deal, Sony’s emphasis on the much-loved series seems disingenuous and possibly even hypocritical.
We have contacted Sony for confirmation of Ryan’s statement.