Sony has tried to block Microsoft’s acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard, claiming that the deal could impose an anticompetitive environment should Microsoft decide to make several games, most notably the Call of Duty franchise, exclusive to Xbox consoles. While Microsoft has repeatedly claimed that this isn’t its intention, and has signed new deals with Nintendo and Nvidia to back this up, some analysts have stated that the company does have a financial incentive to make Call of Duty unavailable on PlayStation to scoop ip additional sales on Xbox from fans.
In part, Microsoft has repeatedly claimed that the deal is primarily due to Activision Blizzard’s strength on mobile platforms, and that it remains relatively weak in the console space compared to Sony and Nintendo. The company has subpoenaed Sony in an effort to prove that the deal wouldn’t significantly impact Sony’s business, with the FTC ruling that Sony must turn over a large number of documents, potentially including sensitive information showing that Sony has paid third-party publishers to keep games off of Game Pass, as Xbox has previously claimed.
Should these documents show that Sony has acted in bad faith by restricting Xbox’s own ability to complete, it may see the company lose credibility as the deal’s most vocal complainant. However, this doesn’t mean that the FTC is siding with Microsoft - just that it feels that this specific point merits further consideration.
The blizzard rages on
With more and more markets either joining those who are approving the deal or looking upon it more favourably, it appears that Microsoft may be getting closer to closing the deal, which may be bad news for Sony. While Microsoft may keep its word and maintain the availability of Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles, the long-standing rivalry between the companies is likely to become more hostile, which could result in unfavourable deals, such as exclusive content on Xbox consoles or delayed releases on PlayStation.
However, it’s worth noting that PlayStation accounts for 13% of Activision Blizzard’s revenue, making it the company’s third largest customer after Apple (20%) and Google (18%). In turn, Microsoft accounts for less than 10% of the company’s revenue, meaning that Microsoft may have a financial incentive to keep Activision Blizzard games available on its competitors platform.
Where does this leave mobile? Both companies are attempting to increase their footholds in the mobile space, and King remains the primary driver of Microsoft’s attempts to acquire Activision Blizzard, and give them a platform in the mobile space it’s historically lacked. In turn, Sony is reportedly eyeing up an acquisition of Take-Two interactive, parent company of mobile giant Zynga.
We listed Activision Blizzard as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.