The war between Sony and Microsoft over the acquisition of Activision Blizzard has intensified. In recent days, several documents have been made public as part of the investigation by the British authorities. The CMA is still concerned about the impact that the takeover would have on the competition that Sony is able to oppose to Microsoft, and the investigation today allows us to glean some information on the next generation of consoles.
The weight of Call of Duty when buying a new console
The Call of Duty franchise has been debated for months and Microsoft becoming the potential owner raises many questions. According to regulators, it is above all when choosing a new console that the impact of a Call of Duty exclusivity would be the strongest:
This impact is likely to be felt, especially around the time of the launch of the next generation of consoles, where gamers are making new decisions about which console to buy.
his response to the CMAMicrosoft has claimed that the next generation of consoles will not arrive for several years, citing a planned release in the fall of 2028 at the earliest.
Microsoft and Activision do not dispute that a portion of gamers are likely to re-evaluate their console ownership at the start of a new generation
But they also note that it’s an event that only happens about every eight years. The next generation of consoles isn’t expected to release until Fall 2028 at the earliest.
Sony is afraid of losing Call of Duty when the PS6 is released
As we know, Microsoft has offered Sony an agreement ensuring the release of Call of Duty on PlayStation until 2027. The Japanese giant, however, mentions the fact that when releasing its next console, which we can easily imagine the PS6, it will have lost Call of Duty and other Activision games, greatly harming its competitiveness:
Microsoft has offered to continue making Activision’s games available on PlayStation only until 2027 (Microsoft, paragraph 3.27). Similarly, in public comments on October 26, Microsoft said it plans to bring Call of Duty to PlayStation only “for as long as it makes sense.” A period up to 2027 – or some other (perhaps shorter) period that Microsoft unilaterally determines as “logical” is entirely inadequate. By the time SIE launches the next generation of its PlayStation console (which should happen around [confidentiel]), it will have lost access to Call of Duty and other Activision titles, making it extremely vulnerable to consumer switching and subsequent loss of competitiveness.
Sony will have time to adapt according to Microsoft
Faced with these fears, Microsoft believes for its part that Sony has “more than enough time to adapt its commercial strategy”, as it indicates to the British CMA:
If Sony was indeed worried about a hypothetical withholding of content from Activision, it would have at least six years to prepare a competitive response in time for the launch of the next console generation.
The Japanese obviously disagrees and has indicated that even assuming he has the resources to develop a challenger to Call of Duty, it would take many years and billions of dollars.
Recently, we learned that Microsoft offered Sony a 10-year deal for the Call of Duty franchise. However, we do not know if this agreement was accepted since the Japanese firm refused to comment on this offer.
It goes without saying that the soap opera hosted by the two giants is far from over and that we should have new elements soon. As a reminder, the United Kingdom will give its verdict on the takeover in March 2023 while the FTC could decide soon. For its part, the European Union announced the launch of its investigation at the beginning of October.