Microsoft Corporation has made a strong commitment to ensuring that the highly popular game franchise, ‘Call of Duty,’ will continue to be available on rival Sony Corporation’s PlayStation devices. This announcement comes in the wake of Microsoft’s monumental $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc., which recently received approval from the European Union. The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had expressed concerns about the potential impact of this acquisition on competition within the console gaming market. However, during a court hearing, a Microsoft executive unequivocally pledged to maintain the availability of ‘Call of Duty’ on Sony’s PlayStation consoles, countering the FTC’s claims.
Microsoft’s Assurance to the Court
During the court hearing presided over by US District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft Gaming, was asked to affirm that the company would not exclude ‘Call of Duty‘ from Sony’s consoles. Responding to the query, Spencer raised his hand in a ceremonial manner and expressed with utmost confidence, “My commitment is, my testimony is, we will continue to ship future versions of Call of Duty on Sony’s PlayStation,” emphasizing that this would be possible as long as Sony permits it. Furthermore, he assured that the game would also be available on future iterations of the PlayStation.
Implications for the FTC’s Legal Challenge
Spencer’s testimony serves as a significant defense by Microsoft executives during the ongoing five-day court hearing. By providing this assurance under oath, Microsoft effectively undermines the FTC’s attempt to establish that the acquisition would diminish competition within the console gaming market. The blockbuster deal, if approved by Judge Corley, would propel Microsoft to the third position in the global games market, trailing only Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Sony. With the closure deadline set for July 18, the outcome of the legal challenge holds the power to either solidify or jeopardize this transformative acquisition.
Microsoft’s Motives and Market Expansion
Microsoft has consistently maintained that its motivation behind acquiring Activision is to establish a strong presence in the lucrative mobile gaming market. During the court proceedings, Spencer emphasized that the acquisition is unrelated to increasing Microsoft Xbox’s market share in the console gaming market. Adorned in a stylish dark gray suit and tie, Spencer conveyed his intention to remain present in the courtroom throughout the entire hearing, scheduled to conclude on June 29.
The FTC’s Concerns and Microsoft’s Responses
The FTC has voiced concerns that the deal would hinder competition in markets related to game subscriptions and cloud-based game streaming technology. In response, James Weingarten, an attorney representing the FTC, argued in his opening statement that the acquisition was not motivated by Microsoft’s desire to challenge the “duopoly” of Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. in the mobile market.
Beth Wilkinson, Microsoft’s attorney, interrogated Spencer to shed light on Microsoft’s dedication to expanding into the mobile gaming sector. In his response, Spencer revealed that Microsoft had made an attempt to acquire smartphone game maker Zynga, but the Farmville creator was ultimately purchased by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. for $11 billion. Furthermore, Spencer disclosed that Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media Inc. in 2020 was driven by the company’s goal to prevent the exclusive release of the highly anticipated Starfield role-playing game on Sony’s PlayStation. He emphasized that Microsoft, as a third-place console, cannot afford to lag behind in terms of content ownership.
Testimonies of Key Figures
As the court hearing nears its conclusion, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick are expected to provide their testimonies. Their insights will likely play a crucial role in shaping the outcome of the case, which is officially titled Federal Trade Commission v. Microsoft Corp., and is taking place in the US District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
In this pivotal legal battle, Microsoft has firmly pledged to maintain the availability of ‘Call of Duty’ on Sony’s PlayStation consoles following its acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc. This assurance comes as a relief to gamers worldwide and challenges the concerns raised by the FTC regarding potential anticompetitive consequences. As the court hearing progresses, the ultimate decision will significantly impact the landscape of the console gaming market, potentially establishing Microsoft as a major player in the industry.
Will ‘Call of Duty’ continue to be available on Sony PlayStation consoles after Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard?
Yes, Microsoft has made a firm commitment to keeping ‘Call of Duty’ on Sony PlayStation devices, ensuring gamers can still enjoy the popular franchise.
What impact does Microsoft’s pledge have on the Federal Trade Commission’s concerns?
Microsoft’s assurance challenges the concerns raised by the FTC regarding potential anticompetitive effects, potentially influencing the outcome of the court hearing.
How will the court hearing’s decision shape the console gaming market?
The court’s decision will have a significant impact on the console gaming market, potentially solidifying Microsoft’s position as a major player in the industry.
Who are the key figures expected to provide testimonies during the court hearing?
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick are expected to provide their testimonies before the conclusion of the hearing.