Update from February 21, 2023: In a press conference in Brussels in the evening, Microsoft commented on today’s developments.
Microsoft President Brad Smith also emphasized that he was unable to describe what was said at the hearing today.
After the agreement with Nintendo, an agreement with Nvidia was also announced. This envisages Microsoft bringing Call of Duty and all Xbox games (available on PC) to GeForce Now. This extends to other Activision Blizzard titles should the deal go through.
Both deals would mean making Call of Duty available on 150 million devices where it’s not currently available.
He also named a number of companies supporting the deal, including smaller European developers, but also Valve and now Nvidia.
Microsoft is willing to make concessions to satisfy regulators around the world. At the same time, however, Smith refers to the distribution of market shares.
“Think of the market in Europe,” he says. “Sony has an 80% share of this market. Globally it’s about 70/30. In Japan it’s 96/4. These numbers have been remarkably consistent for two decades. Even in the last year, when there were problems with the supply chain of Sony said they recovered well.”
“We haven’t reached an agreement with Sony yet, but I hope we will,” says Smith. He carries an envelope with the contract papers that Sony only has to sign.
“I hope today will move our industry and regulation forward in a responsible way.”
Smith says he is more confident than he was 24 hours ago. This is due to the agreed deals with Nintendo and Nvidia.
Sony can focus all of its energies on blocking this deal, which will limit competition and slow down market development, Smith said. “Or they can sit down with us and negotiate a deal.”
Activision Blizzard accuses Sony of simply wanting to defend its “two-decade dominance”. However, the intended takeover would strengthen competition and create “better opportunities” for employees.
There should probably not be a sale of individual divisions, such as the Call of Duty brand: “We think it is neither feasible nor realistic that a game or a piece can be separated from the rest.”
Smith also emphasizes that they don’t want to spend $69 billion to make Call of Duty Xbox exclusive, but to give more people access to it. That also includes the mobile sector.
Cross-platform is the best strategy going forward, as today’s agreements with Nintendo and Nvidia prove.
Microsoft’s final message is that the main problem regulators have with the deal is that they believe Call of Duty is becoming more exclusive – which, as today’s deals show, is not the case.
Original message: Sony continues to deny Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, despite the two companies meeting in Brussels today.
That reports GamesIndustry and refers to “people who are familiar with the situation”.
Despite efforts to find a solution, an agreement between Sony and Microsoft is “not within reach”. The hearing of the European Commission continues.
On the ground, Microsoft is trying to persuade regulators to approve the planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
More on the subject:
Other participants in this hearing include Activision Blizzard, Google, Nvidia, and other companies and experts.
The takeover met with resistance in Europe, Great Britain and the USA. The FTC in the USA is trying to prevent the takeover in court. Regulators in the UK and EU are demanding compromises from Microsoft before approval.
Earlier this morning, the company announced an agreement with Nintendo, guaranteeing Call of Duty for Nintendo consoles for ten years.