The proposed merger, if successful, will be the most expensive acquisition in gaming history. Although the acquisition has been approved by Saudi Arabia, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has signalled its intent to conduct an in-depth review before the country approves it, fearing that the merger could harm rivals and impose a monopoly.
The deal is also seeing pushback from competitor Sony, developers of the PlayStation, with Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) CEO Jim Ryan reportedly visiting the European Union in Brussels to discuss his concerns.
The main sticking point appears to be Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty franchise, one of the most successful game franchises of all time. At present players on both PlayStation and Xbox have access to the title on day one, and Sony fears that the merger could affect this, despite Microsoft’s expansion of the current arrangement and pledging that the deal would result in a greater variety of games being made available across platforms.
"I hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion, but I feel the need to set the record straight because Phil Spencer brought this into the public forum," Ryan said. "Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends. We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle."
The website breaks down the specific benefits for players, creators, and the gaming industry as a whole. Amongst the benefits highlighted are “more competition in mobile, where a couple of big players dominate” and “alternatives to gaming offerings from the dominant mobile platforms.”
Although Microsoft is a dominant name in tech, it’s yet to make a notable impact on the mobile space, either in terms of native gaming or manufacturing. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard would allow them to leverage the company’s experience within the mobile industry to increase its profile within it.
The website also states that the acquisition will result in greater competition in console gaming, and more games being made available on more devices. It appears that Jim Ryan, however, remains unconvinced.
In August, we listed Activision Blizzard as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.