Xbox's 'Approach' With Starfield Is Leading To More ActiBlizz Scrutiny

Earlier today, we covered a little bit about the UK Competition and Markets Authority's concerns over the Activision Blizzard deal. Those concerns mostly related to how big some of Activision's games are, and whether Microsoft owning them could harm competition. Well, the whole first phase document has now been released, and it brings the Bethesda deal under the spotlight as well.

Basically, the UK CMA is not only looking at the deal in itself to make a decision on ActiBlizz, but also Xbox's other acquisitions. The authority is concerned that Xbox may intend to make some of Activision's biggest games exclusive, like Microsoft is doing with Starfield (and potentially, The Elder Scrolls 6). Here's what the document says:

"...the CMA considered Microsoft’s broader strategies, as evidenced by its internal documents and historical course of dealing following similar transactions in the past. The CMA found that the potential strategic benefits to Microsoft of using ABK’s content to foreclose rivals — such as expanding the Game Pass user base and strengthening network effects in its gaming ecosystem—could outweigh any immediate losses in terms of licensing revenues.

The CMA notes that Microsoft has followed this approach in several past acquisitions of gaming studios, where it made future game releases from those studios exclusive in consoles to Xbox (such as the upcoming Starfield and, based on Microsoft’s public statements, Elder Scrolls VI from Bethesda, a studio Microsoft acquired as part of its USD 7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax in 2021)."

Xbox, and indeed Phil Spencer himself, have come out and said definitively that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation after any deal goes through. Still, that doesn't seem to be enough evidence for all parties, with some looking at Xbox's other deals and how those have played out.

After today's whirlwind of Activision Blizzard related news, it's looking like this particular deal going through is far from a formality. We'll be glad if/when it does and we can start talking about the actual games!

What do you make of this? Should the Bethesda deal have any bearing at all? Let us know below.