the concerns of the CMA

While Microsoft is awaiting regulatory approval for its takeover of Activision Blizzard, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the British agency responsible for monitoring anti-competitive behavior, has detailed its fears about the extent of the such an acquisition. The Redmond firm replied to him.

CMA concerned about market competitiveness

Announced in January for 68.7 billion dollars, this acquisition is the largest in the history of video games, and should allow Microsoft to add the entire catalog offered by Activision Blizzard to its Game Pass offer. For the time being, Brazil and Saudi Arabia have given their agreement for the American giant to continue its operation, but other countries are much more reluctant.

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This is particularly the case of the United Kingdom. After reviewing the conditions of the acquisition, the CMA did not accept it and decided to go further by moving to the second phase of its approval. In this context, the organization returned to its many questions about the operation, which it considers dangerous for competitiveness in the fields of gaming and the cloud.

Anti-competitive behavior towards Sony?

For example, the CMA believes the deal may hurt Sony and its PlayStation and other multi-game subscription offerings, as Microsoft could make the decision to make Activision Blizzard content exclusive to its own. offers. The organization also fears that Microsoft will use the studio, which notably offers Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, to compete with historical rivals such as Google, Amazon and Nvidia in the field of video game streaming, reports Games Industry.

The CMA is particularly concerned about the effect of ” network of the industry, that a console with a large number of players attracts more content, which in turn attracts more players. She explains that the potential exclusivity of the Call of Duty franchise could have this effect in a disproportionate way.

Finally, the fact that Microsoft owns the Azure cloud offering also raises CMA’s suspicions about the company’s PC gaming offering. By adding Activision Blizzard’s content to it, she fears that the firm will get a “ unparalleled advantage on other cloud streaming providers.

It is important to note that these different elements are also at the heart of the concerns of the European Union, which is also investigating the acquisition. The Commission indeed sent a large questionnaire to Microsoft’s competitors in the field, and the many questions related to subjects very similar to those raised by the CMA.

Sony's PlayStation 5.

The CMA is concerned about the repercussions of the acquisition on Sony, which markets the PlayStation. Photography: Ben Iwara / Unsplash

Microsoft responds and recalls that Sony surpasses it in the video game sector, and by far

According to Microsoft, the questions of the British organization are not justified, particularly those relating to its competition with Sony. The Japanese firm is the leader in the console market with 150 million devices installed, compared to 63.7 million for the Xbox, which occupies third place on the podium behind Sony and Nintendo.

The suggestion that the historical market leader, with clear and enduring power, could be squeezed out by the third-largest provider due to loss of access to a title is not credible “, assures the Redmond firm. She further explains that if every Call of Duty player on PlayStation moved to Xbox, ” the remaining PlayStation player base would be significantly larger than that of Xbox “.

In addition, Microsoft claims that Sony has a lot more exclusive content, and that the company has the means to continue to be competitive even if the acquisition of Activision Blizzard is completed. The company goes on to explain that if gamers choose to leave PlayStation for Xbox, it will be because Xbox offers more choice in its approach to how games can be purchased. According to Microsoft, this type of behavior must be encouraged by the CMA because it is an element highlighting the well-being of consumers.

Finally, regarding Microsoft’s cloud offering, the latter believes that the organization’s concerns are not justified because Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service does not use Azure and does not stream games to from PC hardware.

The CMA must now analyze these responses and will deliver its verdict on March 1. As a reminder, in addition to the United Kingdom and the European Union, the United States is also investigating the acquisition through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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