Sony and Microsoft use industry websites to argue over Call

Microsoft and Sony continue publicly arguing about the $68.7 billion Activision-Blizzard deal and the entire world is watching.

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Today Sony delivered new controversial comments about Microsoft’s proposed Activision buyout. The two billion-dollar tech giants are using some of the largest websites in the video games industry to publicly jab one another in regards to Call of Duty exclusivity and the Activision-Blizzard buyout as a whole. These websites, which are often quoted directly in reports prepared by legal advisors in response to anti-competition probes, have become public forums for what is fast becoming a rivalry between two games giants.

Sony’s latest comment has ignited claims of anti-competition; Sony argues if Microsoft assumes control of Call of Duty that it would directly negatively harm the entire market. These are bold claims, and Sony can’t adequately back them up without revealing key market data, earnings figures, and other information that is likely confidential and closely-guarded–in other words, Sony can’t exactly prove what it is saying to be true without divulging the same documents that it has provided regulatory bodies like the FTC and CMA.

Today Sony delivered the following comment regarding deeper investigation into the Activision-Blizzard deal to GamesIndustry.biz:

“By giving Microsoft control of Activision games like Call of Duty, this deal would have major negative implications for gamers and the future of the gaming industry.

“We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality gaming experience, and we appreciate the CMA’s focus on protecting gamers.”

Microsoft responded with a very curt comment of its own:

“It makes zero business sense for Microsoft to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation given its market leading console position.”

Remember that “remove” does not technically mean that future Call of Duty games will always release on PlayStation. Microsoft’s vernacular here could indicate existing, already-released Call of Duty games will remain on PlayStation. New games, on the other hand, could be kept off of the platform until Sony and Microsoft strike an appealing deal.

These two comments are stark enough to turn heads. Right now the entire world is watching these companies. Worldwide regulators are sifting through reams of data provided by Sony, Microsoft, and its competitors regarding this deal.

Sony is speaking out with major absolutes that clearly make a case against Microsoft taking control over Call of Duty, and it could be said that Sony is attempting to sway regulatory approvals and allowances with such statements.

The current developments follow two other very revealing comments made by Microsoft and Sony.

A bit ago, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer confirmed that he had reached out to Sony to allow Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for “several years” after the deal went through and after current marketing deals had expired. In essence, Call of Duty has an expiration date on PlayStation. It will not remain on the platform in perpetuity, Spencer indicated.

“In January, we provided a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation, with feature and content parity, for at least several more years beyond the current Sony contract, an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements,” Microsoft’s Phil Spencer told The Verge.

This was the first time that Microsoft had spoken out so frankly to a news outlet on this subject.

Days later, Sony’s Jim Ryan responded with his own frank statement, revealing key details of a deal that would almost always remain behind closed doors.

“I hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion, but I feel the need to set the record straight because Phil Spencer brought this into the public forum,” Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz.

“Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends. After almost 20 years of Call of Duty on PlayStation, their proposal was inadequate on many levels and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers.

“We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle.”

Regulators are watching. Lawyers and legal counsel are watching. We have to wonder what kinds of decisions that regulators will make in reflection of these comments…especially if things continue down this path.

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