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Everything that went down in day one at court for Microsoft, Sony, and the FTC

Let the Activision Blizzard acquisition courtroom drama begin

An image of the Xbox, PlayStation and FTC logos
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Yesterday marked the first day of proceedings in the legal battle between Microsoft and the US Federal Trade Commission as the FTC seeks a preliminary injunction on Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. The injunction would further prevent Microsoft's acquisition deal of Activision Blizzard from going through.

Several of Xbox's high profile figures testified at the first day of trial, including the likes of Sarah Bond, corporate vice president of gaming partnerships and business development at Microsoft, Bethesda head of publishing Pete Hines, and Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty. They were questioned on a range of things including cloud gaming, Call Of Duty exclusivity, and Bobby Kotick's revenue share demands.

Here's a rundown of everything that happened at court, as reported by The Verge and IGN who were both able to attend proceedings.

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  • PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said he believed the ABK deal was "not an exclusivity play at all" in a previously unseen email to former Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Chris Deering. "I'm pretty sure we will continue to see Call Of Duty on PlayStation for many years to come," Ryan wrote.
  • Sarah Bond claimed ABK boss Bobby Kotick demanded a greater share of revenue to put Call Of Duty on Xbox. Bond said "if we did not move beyond standard revenue share then [Kotick] intended to not place Call Of Duty on Xbox," IGN reported. Xbox agreed to Kotick's demands, Bond said, to meet player expectations and do "the best thing for the business".
  • Microsoft has lower revenue splits for some Xbox games. The company typically takes 30%, but takes 20% from titles "where [they] believe it was critical to get that content" Bond said, according to The Verge.
  • The upcoming Indiana Jones game that's in development by MachineGames and will be published by Bethesda was originally meant to be a multiplatform release. After Bethesda was acquired by Microsoft, it was instead turned into an Xbox and PC exclusive.
  • Xbox and PC exclusivity for The Outer Worlds 2 is yet to be decided, Matt Booty said.
  • Pete Hines said Xbox exclusivity for Starfield streamlined development. "We would not be putting [Starfield] out in nine weeks if we were supporting an entire additional platform, in my opinion," Hines said according to IGN, though he also stated he was confused by the drive from Microsoft to keep COD on multiple plaforms (and bring it to more). Hines allegedly thought Xbox CEO Phil Spencer would explain in an interview why COD would be kept multiplatform, but not Bethesda games.
  • The Verge reported that FTC counsel revealed a dedicated version of Xbox Cloud Gaming was in development which would have been offered separately to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions. Bond claimed that xCloud is most popular on console compared to mobile and PC, but the service operates at a loss.
  • Microsoft claimed they had "lost" the console war, as sales of Xbox hardware continue to consistently lag behind Sony and Nintendo.

Proceedings will continue today, and Phil Spencer will appear in court to testify. Jim Ryan will also speak in a prerecorded video. If day one already had some wild revelations, there's doubtless many more to be revealed as the case continues over the coming days.

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