Remember when Phil Spencer told everyone he’d be open to “a longer-term commitment (opens in new tab)with Sony about access to Call of Duty? Well, it looks like he meant it. Sources report this to Reuters (opens in new tab)that Microsoft is gearing up to make concessions to EU regulators regarding its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, consisting primarily of a 10-year offer to Sony to keep CoD on PlayStation.
Microsoft has spoken publicly about a deal like this before. Last week it came out that Microsoft apparently had offered Sony a 10-year CoD contract (opens in new tab) directly, to which Sony declined to comment. It now appears that Microsoft is willing to submit that contract to the regulators themselves so they can decide if it’s enough to settle their jitters.
It could very well work out. The regulatory pressure Microsoft has faced so far has largely been related to its competitors’ access to CoD, rather than broader issues of industry consolidation and monopolization. Both UK and EU watchdogs launched deeper “Phase 2” investigations into the deal amid much talk about CoD, while the Rumor has it that FTC is preparing a challenge (opens in new tab) soon to take over. Even Brazilian regulators, who approved the acquisition, said it could negatively impact Sony’s access to CoD, they just thought it more Sony’s problem than Brazil’s (opens in new tab).
Microsoft will have to submit its concessions before the January deadline from EU regulators. Officials are currently preparing a list of complaints about the deal for publication early next year. If Microsoft’s concessions manage to fend them off at the pass, it could shorten the approval process significantly.
While it may seem like Microsoft has been in the act of acquiring Activision for decades, that was really just the case announced in January this year (opens in new tab). Since then, we’ve all been caught up in a long back and forth between Microsoft, Sony, and countless national regulators. With 16 countries examining the deal — and with only Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Serbia having approved so far — we’re likely to have a lot more legal action before all is said and done.