Microsoft could be asked to agree to sell the Call of Duty franchise in order for its disputed takeover of Activision Blizzard to get the green light from the UK government regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority says the deal in its current form has the potential to “harm UK gamers” who cannot afford consoles and damage the important rivalry between Xbox and PlayStation. At the heart of this argument is the fate of the Call of Duty franchise.
“Xbox and PlayStation compete with each other right now, and access to the most important content, like CoD, is an important part of that competition,” AMC said in a press release. “Reducing this competition between Microsoft and Sony could result in all gamers seeing higher prices, reduced lineup, lower quality, and poorer service on game consoles over time.”
The CMA said it surveyed 40,000 Call of Duty PlayStation players, and 24% of them said they would head to Xbox if it became exclusive to Microsoft-owned platforms. Microsoft has promised that will not be the case.
Following its investigation into the takeover project, the CMA proposes two structural solutions (pdf). The second of them completely prohibits fusion. So what options does the CMA say Microsoft has to push it through?
Well… they’re not very appealing.
(i) Disposal of the business associated with Call of Duty;
(ii) Divestiture of the Activision segment of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (the Activision segment), which would include the Call of Duty-related business;
(iii) Divestiture of the Activision segment and the Blizzard segment (the Blizzard Segment) of Activision Blizzard, Inc., which would include businesses associated with Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, among other titles.
Essentially, either of these solutions would likely undermine Microsoft’s desire to do the deal anyway. Why pay $70 billion for something when you have to immediately sell the most valuable item?
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