European Commission staff member under fire for saying Call of Duty will remain on "my PlayStation"
Phil Spencer agrees with himBy Rob Thubron
Facepalm: In another example of why people in the public eye should be careful when posting to social media, a European Commission staff member is facing claims of bias following a tweet about Call of Duty staying on the PlayStation.
Ricardo Cardoso, the Deputy Head of Unit Interinstitutional & Outreach at the European Commission, last week tweeted that the agency is "working to ensure that you will still be able to play Call of Duty on other consoles (including my Playstation [sic])."
The Commission is working to ensure that you will still be able to play Call of Duty on other consoles (including my Playstation). Also on our to do list: update stock pictures. These gamers have wired controllers whereas Xbox and Playstation have wireless ones since about 2006! https://t.co/Gfvsi3rKXD--- Ricardo Cardoso (@RCardosoEU) November 8, 2022
The Commission has long emphasized that the main focus of its investigation into Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is to ensure the Redmond firm doesn't make games such as Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox and PC, a move it says will lead to competition concerns within the video games industry.
But while Cardoso was simply reaffirming that goal, using the word "my" PlayStation was ill-advised and has led to accusations of bias---a UK watchdog faced similar accusations last month when Microsoft said the regulator was relying "on self-serving statements by Sony."
The tweet resulted in the European Commission clarifying that Cardoso is not involved in the process of examining the acquisition. "Mr Cardoso works in the Director General for the Internal Market and not in the Directorate General for Competition," it said in a statement to Tweaktown. "Mr Cardoso is not involved in the assessment of this transaction. Furthermore, as indicated clearly in his Twitter profile, he tweets in a personal capacity."
Cardoso, in another tweet, confirmed that he did not work in the department that deals with mergers. "To clarify: I am not involved in the assessment of the merger and don't even work in the department dealing with mergers. As is clear from my profile my comments are personal and not a Commission position, whose decision will be taken on the basis of the facts and the law," he wrote over the weekend.
It's strange that Cardoso felt the need to post the tweet in the first place. Microsoft initially said it planned to keep CoD on PlayStation for several more years beyond Sony's current deal with Activision, which covers the series' subsequent two releases following the recently launched Modern Warfare II. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said this was "inadequate," but Xbox head Phil Spencer now says the series will be on Sony's machines "as long as there's a PlayStation out there."
Microsoft is making progress toward completing the deal. Regulators in Saudi Arabia and Brazil have approved it, and the FTC is expected to give a ruling this month. The biggest hurdle at the moment could be the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, which has given March 1 as the deadline for its final decision. Microsoft also needs approval from regulators in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.