Microsoft is trying to buy Activision-Blizzard in what would be the biggest game developer acquisition yet. The merger would give Microsoft control of a huge chunk of the game’s “base” demographic, at least from a western perspective. The process has entered regulatory review, which invites competitors and other industry figures to comment on the sale. Naturally, competitor Sony is strongly opposed to the merger, but Microsoft has its own say on Sony’s objections.
Sony’s argument mostly boils down to Microsoft taking control of Activision”Call of Dutyfranchise. Although its popularity has waned a bit since its glory days, Call of Duty is still a huge gaming industry titan. Sony says that Call of Duty is an “essential” franchise, and that a single platform holder taking ownership would unbalance the industry and lead to unfair competition.
Well, Microsoft points out that Sony’s entire marketing strategy when it comes to its PlayStation brand is based around exclusive games – an area where, as hardcore gamers well know, Microsoft has long been lacking. Even beyond that, however, Microsoft notes that buying Activision won’t Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox platforms, as the company has already committed to continue Cod releases on PlayStation.
Microsoft allegedly goes on to say that Sony pays “blocking fees” to “prevent developers from adding content to Game Pass and other competing subscription services.” If true, this is certainly rather poor behavior; it smacks of the unsavory Epic Games Store exclusivity tactics it’s used while trying to wedge itself into the PC space.
Make no mistake: Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to get all gamers on Game Pass. Your author here opposes “games as a service” on principle, which makes it difficult to empathize with Microsoft’s point of view. Yet it’s also hard to agree with Sony’s argument that “Call of Duty” is a “game category unto itself.” Although Call of Duty is a major franchise, Sony has many major franchises exclusive to its platform.