The acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft has been the big soap opera of 2022, but the completion of the purchase is something that is not entirely in the hands of the companies involved: the regulatory commissions must study the impact that this would have on the market and on the opinions of other agents . Sony, for its part, is determined not to happen due to the huge risk this could pose for PlayStation.
Sony’s refusal has remained fierce until today, and the truth is that it has worked because even Microsoft claims that it is conditioning the process. Now not only do we know more about the reasons that lead him to fight the acquisition, but also a very peculiar solution that the PS5 makers put on the table to unlock the deal: that, specifically, Xbox sell the Call of franchise. .
A solution that, frankly, would not only go against Xbox’s priorities and the rationale behind putting $68.7 billion on the table, but also against recent promises from Xbox itself.
But let’s put it in context: Activision Blizzard has a portfolio of franchises and licenses of enormous importance in the video game industry. From Crash Bandicoot to Diablo and Warcraft, passing through candy Crush. Of course, the biggest concern of the makers of the successful PS5 is Call to action.
Sony doesn’t want Xbox to be the priority for Call of Duty players and explains why
Nobody is surprised that Sony wants to prevent it at all costs an exodus from PlayStation to Xbox. Which is quite logical and reasonable. The reason why he argues before regulatory commissions, however, and as demonstrated in his own statements to the CMA, is really unique.
From the outset, Sony has not only questioned that it will receive fair and equitable treatment, but also illustratively questioned drop -before the commission- that in addition to securing the best Call of Duty developers for the Xbox and PC versions, they could find with bugs and errors in the PlayStation versions.
“Post acquisition, Microsoft will need to make decisions about the support it will provide to develop any PlayStation version of Call of Duty. Even if Microsoft were operating in good faith, it would be encouraged to support and prioritize the development of Xbox versions of the game. , for example, using their best engineers and greatest resources.
There would be no practical way for the Commission (or Sony) to monitor how Microsoft chooses to allocate its resources and the quality/number of engineers it dedicates to the PlayStation version of Call of Duty, to ensure that SIE receives fair and equitable treatment.
Furthermore, it would be difficult to quickly detect any deviation from a commitment in terms of technical or graphical quality and ensure compliance. For example, Microsoft could release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty in which bugs and errors appear only in the final level of the game or after subsequent updates.
Even if such downgrades could be detected quickly, any solution would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a starting point for playing Call of Duty. In this regard, and as with Modern Warfare I, Call of Duty is most often only purchased within the first few weeks of launch.”
During this long process, both Phil Spencer and the president of Microsoft promised to give equal treatment, guaranteeing PlayStation the same conditions as Xbox, PC and, in addition, Nintendo Switch and GeForce Now, in addition to a ten-year term. years contract that you are willing to negotiate in view of the conditions which are estimated by Sony.
For its part, Sony is not only extremely skeptical, but dismisses this Microsoft may block some content in Activision games after acquisition. One perk that honestly pays off: in every previous Call of Duty installment, PlayStation players have had early access to betas, content, or perks like additional loaders.
Some maps of certain installments were released a month later on PC or Xbox and, without going any further, some of the PlayStation content as operators for COD: Modern Warfare II, will only reach the rest of the platforms once a year has passed since the launch. game launch.
Without going any further, the Oni operator stops Warzone 2.0 It won’t be available on Xbox and PC until October 27, 2023. One year after its debut on PS5 and PS4.
But the thing goes further: in that same game it is only possible to disable cross-play with PC on Sony consoles.
However, and according to the documentation presented, Sony is at this point very aware that there is irreparable damage to the competitiveness of players.
If the game is found to perform worse on PlayStation than Xbox, Call of Duty players may decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favorite game in a second-rate version or in less competitive conditions.
There are a number of ways Microsoft can block access to Activision content post-acquisition, and it’s difficult to offer a solution that reflects each case. But even if a solution existed, it would be difficult to detect and prevent Microsoft from adopting a certain strategy in time to avoid irreparable damage to rivals’ competitiveness.
Furthermore, Microsoft would have a strong incentive to employ the strategies at its disposal to reduce competition. The risk of distortion, in this case, refers to the possibility that a solution will create distortions in the market that reduce effectiveness or increase costs.
Of course, Sony isn’t just concerned that gamers of call to action on PlayStation are hurt by the acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
PlayStation’s business model is at risk, but has a counterproposal to allow the acquisition
While in the documents provided there was confidential Sony and Microsoft information conveniently crossed out, among what was shown were some of the threats Sony will face should Activision Blizzard join Xbox Game Studios.
big risksincidentally, which go through the increase in prices of games produced by Sony (SIE) or that the PlayStation Plus subscription service ends up being commercially unsustainable.
Microsoft’s recent proposal to SIE regarding Call of Duty also poses this risk. The pricing terms that Microsoft has proposed for the “buy to play” model would give Microsoft a feature that could increase the prices that SIE charges players to play their favorite game.
And when it comes to Microsoft Game Studios services, Microsoft has proposed a licensing deal that would make PlayStation Plus commercially unsustainable, forcing SIE to raise prices on PlayStation Plus games. [Microsoft] or directly to not offer Call of Duty.
Microsoft’s plan is no secret: bring to Game Pass Call of Duty and all Activision Blizzard games . In fact, they made it clear from the beginning and constantly ratify it to regulatory commissions, ensuring that it will benefit competition, players and access to video games.
In that regard, both companies (both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard itself) have big plans that include increasing the value of the Game Pass service, strengthening Xbox’s presence and, in the process, bringing Xbox Game Studios franchises to the systems. , NVIDIA and, of course, PlayStation. Because Phil Spencer is fully aware that not bringing Call of Duty to Sony’s consoles and making it an Xbox exclusive would be shooting himself in the foot.
Here’s an appreciation: sony has no authority whether or not to allow the purchase, but is playing all the cards at its disposal to prevent it from happening through observations and statements that assess the possible side effects of closing the deal.
At least, in view of Sony’s business model: Nintendo and NVIDIA have entered into an alliance with Microsoft that will guarantee the arrival of Microsoft games.
And yet, according to what was found, during the observations a series of solutions were suggested, among which stands out for Microsoft to dispose of the Call of Duty franchise to unlock the deal. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s response is that the acquisition itself could not be done without call to action. Especially after the recent ten-year engagement with Nintendo and NVIDIA.
Collecting papers: what are Sony’s five arguments before the commission
As we mentioned, the decision on the purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is not in Sony’s hands, but it is one of the biggest agents when it comes to preventing it from becoming effective.
Based on the remarks made during its speech, Sony insists that Microsoft could implement various strategies to fully or partially block access to Activision content for PlayStation gamers and, more specifically, for the Call of Duty saga through different specific measures, such as:
- increase the price of call to action on playstation
- Degrade the quality and performance of call to action on PlayStation compared to Xbox
- Ignoring PlayStation-specific features (e.g., DualSense haptic technology) or not prioritizing features within those features.
- Restrict, downgrade, or de-prioritize investment in multiplayer experience on PlayStation
- And even do that call to action only available through Game Pass.
Microsoft’s argument, in turn, rests on a single point: that call to action becomes available to over 150 million players. Something that has been established and substantiated in writing. For now, today three of the installments that never made it to Steam can be played on the Valve platform.
From here it’s time to think about whether PlayStation, as a brand, is really so dependent on call to action taking into account the weight of its own catalog with sagas such as The Last of Us, God of War or Unknown. In addition to other games like the saga fifa any fortniteOf course.
For its part, Microsoft also claims that after the acquisition closes, the unique Call of Duty benefits that PlayStation systems have enjoyed so far They will also be available on Xbox and PC. although we want to understand that the exclusivity agreement between Sony and Activision currently in effect must expire first.
In any case, Sony and Microsoft’s cards have been laid on the table and the great soap opera seems to be reaching the final stretch: the resolutions of the committees should arrive in the coming months, the intention of Activision Blizzard itself is to be part of Xbox Game Studios next summer.