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Activision takeover: Sony distrusts Microsoft because of Bethesda

Sony sees “countless” ways Microsoft could circumvent the agreement. The Playstation makers are reminiscent of the Bethesda debacle

By Dan OproiuPublished about a year ago 2 min read

Regulators around the world continue to scrutinize whether Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard could result in a dominant position for the Xbox maker. Competitor Sony is pointing the finger in the direction of the past: Back then, the giant from Redmond had already shown that it later attached little value to promises made. Therefore, one does not believe that "Call of Duty" will continue to appear on the Playstation after the acquisition. That's exactly what the Xbox company keeps saying.

Microsoft has tried to foreclose on Sony in the past

The current reason for exchanging arguments is an investigation by the British regulatory authority, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). She asked the Playstation group for comment. Sony referred to the decision of the European Commission in 2021 to allow Microsoft to acquire Bethesda subsidiary Zenimax .

However, as noted in a Microsoft briefing document, the company was also clear with the European Commission: “Future decisions on whether to distribute ZeniMax games for other consoles will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

Microsoft points, as examples, to two games, “Deathloop” and “Ghostwire: Tokyo,” which were under development by Bethesda Game Studios when Microsoft completed the ZeniMax acquisition in March 2021.

After the ZeniMax deal closed, Microsoft points out that it followed through on Bethesda’s earlier agreement to release the games for PlayStation a year before their Xbox debuts, honoring the commitment to its own detriment.

The merged entity had "no incentive to foreclose competing video game distributors," the commission said at the time. That same year, the Xbox company proved them wrong. The former Bethesda affiliate had to announce that "Starfield" would not be released for the Playstation and publicly apologized to the community.

After Starfield, Elder Scrolls will also be released exclusively

Elder Scrolls VI is also coming out exclusively for Xbox and PC. Just a year ago, the head of the project, Todd Howard, said such an exclusive title was "hard to imagine". This did not go unnoticed by the US antitrust authority FTC, the CMA and the European Commission. The FTC certified Microsoft that the company had not kept its promises to the Commission. She opposes the takeover. As a result, Microsoft signed a ten-year contract with Nintendo and Sony.

The counter-argument is: There was no assurance. The EU Commission only assumed that this business practice would not fit the strategy of the tech group - a false assumption. She also diagnosed that the exclusivity of Bethesda games has "no significant impact on competition."

Call of Duty: Microsoft signs 10-year deal with Nintendo

In the statement, Sony emphasizes that even if the CMA were to impose conditions, Microsoft would have "numerous possibilities" to circumvent them. The competitor has a "history of non-compliance with conduct commitments." This applies not only to the Bethesda story, but also to Windows and Internet Explorer. In addition, with the Activision franchises, Microsoft will have a "competitive lever" for the fate of the Playstation - for example through pricing and porting quality.

In return, Microsoft proposed a monitoring trustee, an objective third-party assessor and an arbitration panel. Sony and the CMA, on the other hand, propose that Microsoft should divest the Activision and Call of Duty businesses immediately after the acquisition. The EU Commission has officially warned Microsoft. The final proposal from the CMA is expected on April 26th.

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About the Creator

Dan Oproiu

Dan Oproiu is an IT Programmer, providing digital transformation services for businesses from small sized to large enterprises.

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