Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we’re taking a look at Microsoft and Sony’s increasingly bitter feud over Call of Duty and whether U.K. regulators are leaning toward torpedoing the Activision Blizzard deal.
Call of Duty is starting to sink the Activision ship
For Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition, the fate of Call of Duty is starting to look less like a bargaining chip and more like a deal breaker. On Wednesday, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, one of three pivotal regulatory bodies arguably in a position to sink the acquisition, published a 76-page report detailing its review findings and justifying its decision last month to move its investigation into a more in-depth second phase.
Microsoft hit back — hard — and accused the CMA of parroting the talking points of its prime competitor, Sony. But the Xbox maker has exhausted the number of different ways it has already promised to play nice with PlayStation, especially with regards to the exclusivity of future Call of Duty titles. Unless Microsoft is able to satisfy Sony’s aggressive demands and appease the CMA, it now looks like the U.K. has the power to doom this deal like it did Meta’s acquisition of Giphy.
The CMA is focusing on three key areas: the console market, the game subscription market, and the cloud gaming market. The regulator’s report, which it delivered to Microsoft last month but only just made public, goes into detail about each one, and how games as large and influential as Call of Duty may give Microsoft an unfair advantage.
- “The CMA is concerned that having full control over this powerful catalogue, especially in light of Microsoft’s already strong position in gaming consoles,…