As Microsoft’s attempts to buy beleaguered publisher Activision Blizzard start to hit some serious roadblocks, the software giant is being forced to make some concessions in an attempt to seal the deal.
One of those is a series of promises to rival platform holders that, should Microsoft be successful with its purchase, the top-selling Call of Duty series would remain on their systems for the next ten years (at least). The offer went down pretty well with Valve and was professionally acknowledged by Nintendo, but Sony, Microsoft’s chief rival in the console space, reportedly aren’t as keen.
That’s understandable on Sony’s part! They’ve got the most to lose should the Activision sale go through, and Microsoft knows this, which is why they’re becoming increasingly—and increasingly public—in their frustration with PlayStation.
Some of that frustration might be explained by this new report on Bloomberg, which says that in addition to promising that Call of Duty games would remain on PlayStation for at least the next decade as standalone, retail titles (as well as arriving on the same day as they did on other systems), Microsoft also told Sony that the series could be offered on the subscription service PlayStation Plus.
Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service has dramatically altered the video game landscape over the last few years, and loads of people simply assumed that putting the Call of Duty series on Xbox’s subscription platform—at the expense of Sony’s—would have been one of the driving forces behind the entire Activision purchase in the first place.
So this report, if true, is certainly a surprise. It’s important to note that this isn’t a recent addition to the promise, made to sweeten the deal for a reluctant rival; Bloomberg say the Play Station Plus aspect was part of the original 10-year deal that Sony is clearly not happy with (an offer made when Microsoft’s initial 3-year promise was knocked back).
The FTC aren’t happy with Microsoft’s attempts to purchase Activision either. Neither are the European Union, who have “opened a full-scale investigation” into the proposed deal, saying in a statement:
The Commission’s preliminary investigation shows that the transaction may significantly reduce competition on the markets for the distribution of console and PC video games, including multigame subscription services and/or cloud game streaming services, and for PC operating systems.
The preliminary investigation suggests that Microsoft may have the ability, as well as a potential economic incentive, to engage in foreclosure strategies vis-à-vis Microsoft’s rival distributors of console video games.
In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, the Competition and Markets Authority is also investigating the deal, saying the merger “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”
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