Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch head to Game Pass as Activision deal faces tighter...

Daniel Sims

Posts: 664   +27
Staff
The big picture: As antitrust authorities in multiple countries continue their inspection of Microsoft's unprecedented acquisition of Activision Blizzard, UK regulators have expressed deep concerns. While much talk surrounding the deal has focused on Call of Duty and consoles, the British antitrust probe highlights its possible effects on the growing cloud gaming and subscription markets.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) expressed worry that Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard could harm competition in multiple gaming markets. If Microsoft doesn't submit a proposal to address the CMA's concerns by September 8, the organization will move its investigation into a second phase and examine the deal with greater scrutiny.

Under Phase 2, the CMA would appoint an independent group to more closely study the likelihood that the acquisition could harm competition. The third party would also scrutinize both companies' internal records.

After beginning its initial probe in July, the CMA has voiced concerns similar to those Sony published in response to a Brazilian inquiry on the deal. A primary issue is that Microsoft could leverage Call of Duty — one of the biggest franchises in the industry — to its advantage against Sony's PlayStation console.

Microsoft again stated its intentions to continue releasing Call of Duty games on PlayStation in a Thursday update on its plans for Activision Blizzard. In that post, Xbox boss Phil Spencer confirmed that users would see Activision Blizzard games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Diablo on Game Pass and Xbox Cloud if the deal goes through. Microsoft's subscription and cloud services are also primary sources of the CMA's warning.

The UK regulator thinks that keeping some of the biggest PC gaming franchises on Game Pass and Xbox Cloud could make it too difficult for any other subscription or cloud service startup to compete. If regulators approve the acquisition, players might be able to near-instantly play games like Call of Duty Warzone or Overwatch 2 on Xbox Cloud after a simple Google search, whether on a PC or a mobile device.

Previously, Microsoft admitted to Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense that PlayStations handily outsell Xboxes. The company also claimed that Sony fears the new business model subscriptions and cloud gaming present. Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription includes cloud gaming. However, unlike Microsoft, Sony doesn't let subscribers stream all of its latest hot titles, nor does it feature cloud gaming through web browsers.

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passwordistaco

Posts: 409   +944
"Antitrust" regulators have been asleep for decades, so now there's some serious overcompensation. Ignore OS market abuse, but go after gaming. Even with Actiblizz, MS is far from a gaming monopoly. The only "anticompetitive" parties here are the regulators preventing competition.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 693   +584
May be I've over simplified the issue, but in my opinion, I am not sure if this issue is overblown. Activision makes some hot franchise, but will it spell the end of the world just because MS is acquiring it? I doubt so. At the end of the day, these companies are soaking up game developers to give themselves an edge over their competitor. So in the same vein, wouldn't Sony's multiple acquisitions (despite smaller game developers) raise anti-competitive concerns? To me, regardless of the size of the game developer being acquired, these are anti competitive practice. In an ideal world, you should be able to get the same game across all the platforms/ OSes.
 

Ravey

Posts: 369   +167
What's interesting is that Sony bought Bungie back in July 2022 along with several other gaming business to help offset the buyout of Activation by Microsoft.

I believe the main issue was that Sony wouldn't be able to create a game that could compete with Call of Duty but I think they are just being lazy and would rather port games like COD rather than create their own. In the short term they would lose out, but with good marketing and a solid game (they just have to beat Battlefield) they could create something that competes within a few years. In my opinion, the gaming industry is run a lot like the movie industry. If a AAA title doesn't make a huge windfall in the first year, development stops.

There's a possibility Sony could look into buying Bohemia Interactive. That would open up the ARMA franchise that could use a lot of love. (A google search shows that currently Bohemia is owned by Embracer Group at the moment).

There are definite options for Sony which they are likely pursuing.
 

dangh

Posts: 775   +1,301
Even with Actiblizz, MS is far from a gaming monopoly.
Because there is healthy market of subscription services which compete with gamepass on equal terms. And MS did not acquire top selling IP's available on market...
And surely do not use other part of businesses to finance their gaming division...

/s
 

passwordistaco

Posts: 409   +944
Because there is healthy market of subscription services which compete with gamepass on equal terms. And MS did not acquire top selling IP's available on market...
And surely do not use other part of businesses to finance their gaming division...

/s
You don't need a subscription to play games. The market is not subscriptions, it is gaming. Sony is complaining that MS might have exclusives in the future. Sony has many more exclusives than MS - does that warrant an antitrust probe? Sony owns some of the top IPs - does that warrant an antitrust probe? Sony has other corporate divisions - does that warrant an antitrust probe?

Nevermind Disney buying the entire Western media - look over there at Microsoft buying games!
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,293   +8,465
To increase competitiveness and offer incentive to creators, I would like to see a rule that all games over 5 years old go into "public domain" and cannot require fee's or subscriptions AND most importantly, they exist in their entirety on the buyers PC, able to run without internet connections. Yeah, I'm dreaming, but it used to be that way when games first were sold .....
 

kira setsu

Posts: 404   +383
So if it isnt an interactive misery-porn movie game then sony is out of ideas eh?

this is the dumbest s**t I've read in a long time, cant make a competitive fps product so it leads to this, wow
 

NintPlayBox

Posts: 76   +81
Obviously the UK regulators are in bed with Sony.....how can't they see Sony still imposes a far more monopoly in gaming than Microsoft?