Microsoft has emphasised the importance of mobile in the Activision Blizzard merger, explicitly stating that it is a “key strategic objective” for the deal.
The comments were made in a response to remedies suggested by the CMA, where Microsoft also emphasised the importance of maintaining the Call of Duty Licence, they also argued that divestments proposed by the CMA would be inordinately punitive. However, their statement about mobile divestment is of key importance to the mobile gaming industry.
They said, “A divestment would have severe adverse effects on the development of competition because it would prevent Microsoft from achieving its key strategic objective, namely building a mobile gaming business with sufficient scale in order to challenge Google and Apple.”
This is not in and of itself new information, as Microsoft execs have stated that mobile was a key consideration before. However, this is the most explicit statement yet about the importance of mobile for the deal.
Although many regulators - and much of the gaming press - has been solely focused on big names like Call of Duty and Blizzard’s own catalogue including Overwatch and World of Warcraft, mobile has always been in the background as a quiet but massive factor. King, the third unspoken part of the Activision-Blizzard-King triumvirate is probably one of the most profitable mobile game companies of all time, boasting the mega-hit Candy Crush Saga amongst its titles. It also recently hit its 10th anniversary, and showed off a number of key milestones that emphasise its importance as part of the ABK conglomerate.
Despite the seemingly clear-cut nature of the merger initially, the Activision-Blizzard deal has been mired by a continuing feud between Microsoft and Sony, with other companies such as Nvidia and Google chiming in to state their concerns. Many regulators have passed the deal, but just as many have raised significant concerns about a monopoly. With talk of divestment floating around to resolve the deal, we may be seeing a watershed moment for what Microsoft chooses to sacrifice to maintain the deal.