The battle between Sony and Microsoft over the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Xbox manufacturers continued on Thursday, with both companies exchanging statements about Microsoft's commitment to keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation.
The public back-and-forth occurred just as reports suggest that the European Union may intensify its scrutiny of Microsofts agreement. A few weeks ago, UK regulators announced that they would investigate the transaction closely, because they felt it would unfairly limit competition. Now, according to a Financial Times article, the EU is considering a larger, more formal investigation.
Sony praised the EU's decision in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz on Thursday. By giving Microsoft control of Activision titles like Call of Duty, the deal would have significant negative impacts on gamers and the gaming industry, the company said. We want to ensure that PlayStation gamers continue to have the finest gaming experience, and we appreciate the [UK. Competition and Markets Authority]'s emphasis on protecting gamers.
Microsoft responded shrillly: It makes no sense for Microsoft to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation, considering its leading position in the market.
The comparison to Microsoft as the leading console company is somewhat new. It appears that Microsoft's messaging strategy is to present itself as the smaller market player, thereby avoiding any threat to Sony or wider competition. Of course, the statement leaves open the question of what would happen if Sony were not the leading console presence.
Despite all this speculation, the transaction remains in jeopardy until EU, UK, and US authorities have had a chance to examine the two businesses and the marketplace, and either approve the acquisition or make a set of concessions for Microsoft to accept.
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0, the franchises' Call of Duty Next streaming event aired on Thursday, and are expected to be released later this year.