Among the more than a hundred authorities in the world which is currently studying the proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard King by Microsoft, we find the CMA, the British competition authority which we have already talked about at length on Xboxygen. And this one has just published Sony’s response.
Sony’s main criticisms of Microsoft
Since the start of the case, Sony’s answers and arguments have sometimes been quite comical. The Japanese brand had already made it known that it feared that Microsoft would offer itself particular advantages with Call of Duty once the takeover was completed, even though that is exactly what it is doing today since PlayStation has a partnership with Activision to benefit from content exclusive to its platform.
In a document available online detailing Sony’s advice to the CMA, we find a summary of Sony’s concerns:
- The transaction is a game-changer and a threat to an industry loved by hundreds of millions of consumers. It is in particular a question of Call of Duty, deemed “irreplaceable” by Sony.
- After the deal, Microsoft would have the ability and incentive to exclude or restrict rivals, including PlayStation and PlayStation Plus, from access to Call of Duty.
- The effect of the transaction on consoles and multi-game subscription services would cause significant harm to consumers, competitors and developers. Sony mentions in particular the possible loss of the Call of Duty license and that in the medium term, “A significant number of PlayStation users would likely upgrade to Xbox and/or Game Pass. » Sony also fears that independent developers will have no choice but to release their games in the Game Pass when it will have a significant strike force thanks to Call of Duty.
- Deal would hurt nascent competition in cloud gaming
Sony is afraid that Microsoft will increase the price of its consoles while the PS5 has taken 50 € since the summer
An interesting point is also noted in the document and always pointed out by Sony. It concerns a potential price increase.
Faced with weaker competition, Microsoft would be able to: increase the price of consoles and games for Xbox users (including those who came from PlayStation), increase the price of Game Pass, and reduce innovation and the quality. These harms would be amplified by the direct and indirect network effects at play in the industry, allowing Microsoft to further increase prices or reduce quality once its position is even more firmly established.
This passage is also rather funny since for the moment, Sony is the only one to have increased the price of its PlayStation 5, an argument which therefore seems difficult to hold here again.
In summary, Sony seems to be defending its leadership position more than real unfair competition here. Here is the conclusion of the firm addressed to the CMA.
The transaction threatens the gaming ecosystem at a critical time. It would take an irreplaceable Call of Duty franchise out of independent hands and combine it with Microsoft’s hit video game system (Xbox), the first multi-game subscription service (Game Pass), the dominant operating on PC (Windows) and the leading cloud platform (Azure). The only way to preserve robust competition and protect consumers and independent developers is to ensure that Activision remains an independent and independently controlled company.