In its latest written response sent to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) group, Microsoft uses a lot of data to show that its buying of beleaguered publisher Activision Blizzard isn’t going to hurt Sony or Nintendo. In fact, as its bizarre frenzy of self-negging continues, it suggests that the deal will actually help the publisher compete with those other game companies. As part of this argument, Microsoft admits that PlayStation has the better exclusives, giving a ton of annoying console fanboys more ammo in their never ending war to show how much they love their favorite plastic box.
As Microsoft continues its determined attempts to consume Activision Blizzard via its massive $70 billion acquisition, it keeps running into pesky governments and regulators who seem to think maybe, just maybe, one of the biggest tech companies on the planet shouldn’t be allowed to buy up one of the biggest video game publishers in history. As a result of this pushback, Microsoft and Xbox have spent most of this year dancing from courtroom to hearing to regulatory committee trying to paint the picture that Xbox is a small brand, with barely any sales, and no real power compared to Nintendo and Sony.
Its latest attempt at this came via newly released documents from the UK’s CMA. In the docs, Microsoft argues that Sony and Nintendo have “better quality” exclusives that outsell its own first-party games.
Found deep in the fairly long document released yesterday on the CMA’s website, Microsoft includes a section where it suggests that even if it were to make Call of Duty an Xbox-exclusive franchise (though it points out again that it has no plans too), it wouldn’t matter anyway because Sony and Nintendo just have better selling, higher quality exclusives of their own. In sub-section 3.67, titled “Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are better quality,” Xbox says that exclusivity deals are “not uncommon” in video games, and that Sony has its own great exclusive games, like the The Last of Us and God of War.
“Both Sony’s and Nintendo’s exclusive first-party games rank among the best-selling in Europe and worldwide,” explained Microsoft, probably staring at its shoes while it pulls out its empty pant pockets. “Current Sony exclusive content includes prominent first-party titles such as The Last of Us, Ghost of Tsushima, God of War, and Spider-Man. In addition to having outright exclusive content, Sony has also entered into arrangements with third-party publishers which require the ‘exclusion’ of Xbox from the set of platforms these publishers can distribute their games on.”
So basically, Microsoft is arguing that it will never make Call of Duty a console-exclusive franchise, while also arguing that if it did do that, it wouldn’t matter anyway because the game isn’t really that important to Sony or Nintendo. A lot of the company’s response to the CMA’s investigation revolves around downplaying Call of Duty’s importance, saying it’s not a unique game, and pointing towards fan polls and reviews to show that other games are much more popular and critically acclaimed than Activision’s yearly shooter.
And so, on goes the Microsoft Activision Blizzard King merger saga. The CMA, as well as other groups and regulators, will continue poking and investigating the controversial deal while Microsoft tries to convince everyone not to worry, and Sony does the opposite. Place your bets now on how this will all end. And also try not to think about how many terrible people at Activision will end up much richer once this deal is finished.