Activision Blizzard: Exclusive Interview with FOSS Patents – Part 1

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We at XboxDynasty had the unique opportunity to conduct an in-depth interview with Florian Müller from FOSS Patents. Florian is an absolute expert in antitrust law with many years of experience.

The complete interview, which is currently being edited, will be presented to you on Sunday. Nevertheless, we would like to use the time to share some exciting excerpts from the XboxDynasty interview with Florian Müller with you today and tomorrow.

As already mentioned, Florian Müller is an expert in antitrust law. Despite his expertise and his support mandates, we would like to point out the following: In an interview with XboxDynasty, Florian Müller expresses his own opinion and his credibility as a commentator on such proceedings depends on him correctly analyzing and, above all, his forecasts about the outcome of proceedings as often as possible enter.

You can now read what the expert thinks and what opinion he has on Sony, Microsoft and the acquisition of Activision Blizzard in our first part of the interview.

Hey Florian, thank you for taking the time to interview us at XboxDynasty. Please introduce yourself and tell us what expertise you bring to the table and what you report on on your FOSS Patents website.

Hi Tobias, thank you for your interest in my analyses. I’ve been in this industry for a very long time. My association with Activision Blizzard King goes back a long way. I was Blizzard’s first employee — as a consultant, but on a large scale — outside the US in 1995. At that time I coordinated how Warcraft II was brought to the German market and translated it into German at the same time.

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I’ve also developed apps and am currently working on a productivity app. I’m best known in the industry for the blog you mentioned: FOSS Patents.

Roughly half of FOSS Patents readers are based in the US, and I’m getting more and more regular readers in Asia as well. In the beginning, the big issues were the “Smartphone Patent Wars” like Apple vs. Samsung. The range of topics has expanded over time, so that I also write about antitrust topics that interest me as an app developer — and very occasionally even the application of antitrust law to football in connection with the so-called European Super League. Incidentally, I am currently nominated for one of the Antitrust Writing Awards — Antitrust Law is the English term for antitrust law.

In the interest of transparency, I would also like to point out that I have numerous consulting mandates and also advise Microsoft on issues that affect me as an app developer. It’s in the author profile on my blog. Nevertheless, I express my own opinion and my credibility as a commentator on such proceedings depends on my analyzing correctly and, above all, on my prognoses about the outcome of proceedings coming true as often as possible.

This interview is exclusively about the takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, which has been running through the media landscape for months and about which we – also with your help – were able to bring many special details to light. First of all thanks for that.

Now to my first question: In the past, Microsoft has made numerous arguments for a takeover and has made its point of view very clear. At the same time, Sony has raised possible concerns despite having been using these “questionable” business practices, which it accuses Microsoft, for years.

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We’re talking about exclusive content, time-exclusive deals, or contracts that block publication on subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. As an outsider, you might think: Why aren’t the regulatory authorities taking offense at Sony’s machinations, after all, the market leader is clearly exploiting its role here, isn’t it? What do you say?

It is noteworthy that Sony is claiming that Microsoft is pursuing a strategy that nobody is pursuing on a grander scale than Sony itself.

But especially when Microsoft has been saying in no uncertain terms for some time that they have no intention of taking Call of Duty off the PlayStation and are offering a deal that guarantees parity in every respect: release Timing, features, performance, etc. etc..

Not only is Sony the market leader, it has a huge lead. It dominates the market. It’s a lot “cheaper” for Sony to secure exclusive rights because game makers who don’t go for an Xbox release lose less revenue than the other way around.

Whether the antitrust authorities should take a closer look is a legitimate question you raised, but it would take us too far here.

Which concerns from Sony do you think are justified?

As far as the acquisition of Activision Blizzard King is concerned, I don’t see any reason to worry. If Microsoft were to make other major acquisitions after that — think of EA, Take Two, or Epic Games — things might look different.

However, even after the transaction we are talking about here, the gaming market will remain highly fragmented. This is not a concentrated market such as B. for mobile network operators or airlines with high entry barriers. Huge achievements like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds come out of nowhere.

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Of course, Microsoft is bigger than Sony in the sum of all business areas, but that doesn’t change the fact that Sony has huge resources.

So Sony constructs theories that have no substance under antitrust law. Antitrust law is not there to protect individual market participants, but the market, the competition.

And do you think that Microsoft’s strategy can largely allay the concerns of Sony and the regulators?

Yes, for two reasons. Firstly, I believe that the antitrust authorities themselves know that they have no legal basis for a prohibition. The bar for this is reasonably high and this deal extremely far below. Second, Microsoft says they’re still willing to facilitate a constructive solution.

This has already been achieved by signing contracts with Nintendo and Nvidia. Only Sony blocks, but Sony has no right of veto. The regulators can say at any time: there is something on the table that solves all the alleged problems, and if Sony doesn’t accept it: it’s their own fault.

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