Microsoft might consider offering Sony a 10-year licensing deal for Call Of Duty to persuade European Union regulators to approve their Activision Blizzard acquisition. Reuters report that sources familiar with the deal claim an offer could come ahead of the European Commission’s January deadline for their statement of objection, a formal list of the body’s concerns about how the $68.7 billion (£57 billion) buyout deal might affect competition within the games industry. If Microsoft show willingness to offer concessions and ease the EU regulator’s competition concerns, that could potentially speed up the regulator’s decision-making process.
“Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty,” a Microsoft spokesman told Reuters, “but we've said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less.” The Microsoft deal is still being investigated by EU, US and UK competition regulators due to concerns over the effects it would have on the industry, consumer choice, and developing technologies such as games streaming services.
Last week, a report emerged alleging that the US Federal Trade Commission could bring an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft over the Activision Blizzard deal. Three anonymous sources claiming to have inside knowledge of the potential legal challenge suggested that such a lawsuit could happen as early as December. Two of the sources clarified that the FTC commissioners hadn’t yet voted on bringing a lawsuit against Microsoft over the deal, or met with Microsoft’s lawyers. Activision Blizzard’s executive vice president for corporate affairs later tweeted that the company wouldn’t “hesitate to fight to defend” the buyout deal.
I’ll continue to bring you updates as the Microsoft deal progresses through the world’s various competition regulators.
Activision Blizzard are currently the subject of a number of legal actions, labour disputes and allegations of workplace harassment. Rock Paper Shotgun will continue to write about these issues, as well as covering Activision Blizzard games as part of our commitment to cover subjects of interest to our readers. The latest news can always be found under our Activision Blizzard tag.