As regulators approach their deadline to approve or reject Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, those for and against the mega merger are filing every last argument they can think of to try and sway the outcome. My favorite one yet involves Microsoft telling Sony to quit whining already and just get started making its own Call of Duty competitor.
Okay, that’s not exactly what Microsoft said, but it was certainly the spirit of one small excerpt from the company’s latest testimony that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made public on Tuesday. As spotted by VGC, Microsoft argued in a supplemental response that its 10-year proposal to keep Call of Duty available on PlayStation 5 and future Sony consoles is plenty of time and wouldn’t leave the hardware manufacturer on a “cliff edge” once it expires. Why not? Because Sony can use that time to make its own version of the best-selling military shooter.
Here’s what it wrote:
Microsoft considers that a period of 10 years is sufficient for Sony, as a leading publisher and console platform, to develop alternatives to CoD. […] The 10-year term will extend into the next console generation. […] Moreover, the practical effect of the remedy will go beyond the 10-year period, since games downloaded in the final year of the remedy can continue to be played for the lifetime of that console (and beyond, with backwards compatibility).
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I would love to see Sony’s response to this line of reasoning. “No, we can’t actually,” Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan might say. “We tried that already and it was called Killzone. RIP.” He also might add that a game like Modern Warfare II did not happen overnight, but instead was built on the success of a series that’s grown and evolved over 20 years.
“We’re not good enough” has actually been Microsoft’s line throughout these messy proceedings, however. One of its main arguments rests on the idea that, after being trounced by Sony and the PS4 for years, a massive acquisition is actually one of the only ways to disrupt the marketplace and create more competition. The implication has effectively been that Microsoft can’t make hits on its own so it needs to buy them instead.
Coincidently, it’s been almost exactly 10 years since the last Killzone was released. In the time since, Sony saw its first-party studios pivot to massively successful console-selling exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War. Ghost of Tsushima. Who knows what the next 10 years will bring? Though to be fair, Sony hasn’t been shy about supplementing its own bench with acquisitions. Maybe Bungie can make the next Call of Duty killer. Don’t you just love capitalism?