Microsoft Says Biased Sony Attack on $69 Bn Call of Duty-Maker Activision Deal Swayed UK

    Microsoft Corp. accused Britain’s competition watchdog of relying on “self-serving” input from fierce rival Sony Group.
    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Oct 12 2022, 21:39 IST
    Activision Blizzard
    Microsoft announced its deal to buy Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion back in January. (REUTERS)
    Activision Blizzard
    Microsoft announced its deal to buy Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion back in January. (REUTERS)

    Microsoft Corp. accused Britain's competition watchdog of relying on “self-serving” input from fierce rival Sony Group Corp. in its decision to probe the tech giant's $69 Billion takeover of Activision Blizzard Inc.

    The Competition and Markets Authority opened a longer review of the deal last month citing concerns it could hamper markets, for example by restricting players of Activision's Call of Duty to Microsoft's Xbox console.

    In the agency's full decision published Wednesday it said “the main rival that could be affected by this conduct would be Sony,” whereas other competitor Nintendo competes less closely. The CMA also pointed to past “strategies” used by Microsoft to justify taking a closer look at the tie-up.

    Microsoft hit back, saying the CMA “incorrectly relies on self-serving statements by Sony which significantly exaggerate the importance of Call of Duty.” In a response to the CMA statement, it said the authority has adopted the complaints of market leader Sony without the “appropriate level of critical review.”

    The combination with Activision -- which owns some of the most popular franchises including World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero -- will make Microsoft the world's third-largest gaming company and boost the Xbox maker's roster of titles for its Game Pass subscribers.

    The CMA and Sony didn't immediately respond to requests for further comment.

    Microsoft is facing scrutiny from global regulators including in the US. The European Union has also formally opened a probe and will next update in November. The UK regulator has until March 1 to come to a final decision on whether it will allow the deal to go ahead.

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    First Published Date: 12 Oct, 21:13 IST
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