Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard will need to be approved by a number of regulators around the world, including the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA, which announced its investigation in July, published a summary of its preliminary findings in September and recommended a more thorough investigation.
According to Ars Technica, a Phase 2 investigation could result in a merger being prohibited or requiring the entities involved to sell parts of a company.
Microsoft issued a scathing response (PDF) shortly after the CMA published the full text of its decision, accusing the regulator of relying on “self-serving statements by Sony.”
The tech giant stated in its response, which was shared with Ars, that the CMA’s decision was based on concerns that Activision’s catalogue of games, specifically the Call of Duty franchise, would allow Xbox to compete
“exclude its competitors ” Microsoft dismissed that concern as “misplaced,” claiming that the CMA exaggerates the importance of Activision Blizzard’s games in terms of competition in the space.
It also stated that it intends to make Call of Duty more accessible by adding Activision’s titles to its subscription service, Game Pass.
Sony did not like the idea of “increased competition,” stating that its competitor “protect[s] its revenues” by not making newly released games available through PlayStation Plus.
Microsoft also denied that making Call of Duty available on Game Pass would increase the likelihood of people purchasing an Xbox console.
The company stated that CoD games would be available for purchase on PlayStation, and that purchasing them would be less expensive than purchasing an Xbox for Game Pass access.
According to Microsoft, the CMA adopted Sony’s complaints “without the appropriate level of critical review.”
“The suggestion that the incumbent market leader, with clear and enduring market power, could be foreclosed by the third largest provider as a result of losing access to one title is not credible,” the company continued.
Microsoft stated in its response that it is looking forward to working with the CMA during Phase 2, and it appears that the company is determined to make the regulator understand the benefits of the deal.
As for Sony, a spokesperson repeated its stance in a statement sent to Reuters, calling the deal “bad for competition, bad for the gaming industry and bad for gamers themselves.”
Microsoft’s acquisition would give the Xbox ecosystem “a unique combination of tech and content,” they said, which in turn would give the tech giant a dominant position in gaming that would have “devastating consequences for consumers, independent developers, and Sony itself.”