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.
Christ. It's not the same thing at all. CoD is an established franchise and MS have made public commitments and given reassurances that the big hitters will remain multiplat. What more do they want? A blood-signed agreement? Morons...
MS, imo, will keep them multiplat whilst leveraging timed exclusive content, and/or the odd exclusive skin pack or something alike. Maybe via Game Pass perks?
Now, as for things like Crash, Spyro, and other IPs, that should be up to MS to decide whether they go full exclusive or not. Like I said elsewhere, they were timed for a year over on PS. They can't expect too much from MS, and they certainly can't hold MS at gunpoint over previously buying a company and then making "some" of their new IPs exclusive. It's not like they have gone all-in and made all their IPs exclusive.
They were very open about making them exclusive. Just as they've been very open about keeping CoD and other AB IPs multiplat.
On top of that... from the perspective of any other fan that plays on any other platform, what difference does it make at all? They can still buy it day one.
Umm I really don’t see how you can use games not currently out yet as an example of how those games are damaging competition? Starfield might tank sales wise. I mean we could be looking at another cyberpunk situation with that game.
The CMA's report and Twitter thread read like something Sony's lawyers wrote for them.
I'm guessing Sony did some lobbying - the UK is rife with it and it's honestly corrupt as hell, not quite as bad as the US with "pork" politics but not far off at times.
Hopefully MS will pull rank and remind the government and the CMA how many of their projects and departments rely on MS technology and partnerships - and their lawyers easily dismiss this rubbish that reads like a 5 year old Sony fanboy's wet dream...
In other words, Sony keeping games from Xbox is fine. The other way round: God forbid!
I'm just happy the Bethesda acqusition is a done deal.
So what hell is wrong with Xbox having exclusives if they own the company.
It is up to xbox to decide the financial pros and cons etc of this.
They forget Activision wanted to be purchased so what’s the issue.
They should go investigate Nintendo then, their games are totally console exclusive and not even on PC and Cloud gaming.
Load of old rubbish and red tape.
@Dr_Luigi Exactly this.
@Widey85 to be fair if the FTC approves the deal; I’m not entirely sure the UK matters. That’s really the one the counts the most. I know concessions have to be made if they UK doesn’t approve it but the FTC does but again not sure how much really matters.
This is why we have housing shortages and don’t build factories etc, easy in the UK.
To much red tape and messing around etc.
@SplooshDmg Lol don't mention bribes, the CMA will be kicking themselves they didn't outright ask for one!
It just seems that anything Xbox does will be met with stupidity like this. If the tables were turned and Sony wanted this it would have been completed months ago.
How does that make any sense when Starfield is a completely new IP whilst Call of Duty has been going for 20 years?
@mousieone Agreed but it's just annoyingly common in regulators here.
They're always on the side of the dominant players, never on the side of the consumer - our regulators and many of our utilities aren't fit for purpose, and our government is too inept and corrupt to sort any of it out...
So can we also now have Sony brought under heavy scrutiny for their exclusives and keeping games from gamepass as part of this whole mess, will be so glad when all this nonsense is done is finalised and this whole farce is over
@SplooshDmg Lol I really wish MS didn't play fair all the time and would actually do that!
In the UK you can pay for our PM's wallpaper in order to discuss some Festival of Britain crap you want the government to pay for, so I'm sure offering him a few free Surfaces would suffice for this...
@TheGrimOne No it wouldn't have. It'll be a large vocal group, like the Sony ones, that would complain about it. Sony couldn't even outright purchase Crunchyroll without being subjected to an investigation. Can't imagine spending 70 billion and going through this. Business is business and MS shouldn't have to do anything.
@Rafie To be honest I'm not really up on the business ins and outs of it but I understand what you're saying. It's just so infuriating that Xbox is being scrutinised like this.
Glad someone calls microsoft out for their outright lies. If you plan to make them exclusive say so up front. Dont lie about it like with Bethesda and then as soon as it goes through change your tone.
@Rmg0731 Lol I got to play Final Fantasy 15 on my Xbox and won't get to play 16, so I'm not exactly sympathetic to Sony not getting some games
All other things aside, they are merely gathering evidence to see what ms are likely to do if they aquire. Of course they will review statements of intent from the last company buy out, there is no way thats not relevant.
But this also means they will consider the handling of minecraft too, which is definitely another very relevant indicator, and a much more positive one.
I suspect that they will get some bonding assurances about the existing large ips remaining as multiplatform, and then approve.
@Rmg0731 I’m not following, what lie did they say about Bethesda?
@EvilSilentFrame Not exactly lie but they did use smoke and mirrors on the whole "legacy" thing. The way it was worded strongly suggested that games like Elder Scrolls 6 and Fallout 5 would be coming to PS because the franchises have a legacy there but that's not the case.
That's what Phil Spencer is doing regarding these acquisition statements, where the most common interpretation of the statements are something that benefits all platforms but you look a lot deeper and the actual meaning is something which only benefits Xbox. For example, what he means regarding still releasing CoD on Playstation is likely that the FTP multiplayer experience releases on Playstation but the single player campaigns are only on platforms which have Game Pass.
It's good that a regulatory body is finally calling Microsoft out on these smoke and mirror attempts.
Honestly Id be pissed if they do a 360 on starfields exclusivity, it's the main reason I bought into xbox this gen, with other Bethesda games also in mind.
Damn u UK 🤬
And yes, thats all I wanna say (damn bot)
Totally nonsensical from this body. Sony's popularity and market share in the region has grown because of their first party exclusives. Branding this as non-competitive practice is a complete farce.
Brexit now this? Does anything work right in the UK?
I apologise for our attention wanting government. Wish they give the same energy toward making sure we dont all freeze to death this winter.
@NeutronBomb I heard about that issue! Is it really that bad?? Here in the middle of the US we have a ton of natural gas to get us through. Is it really as bad of an outlook as some are saying in the UK?
Silly Phil, don't you know only Nintendo and Sony are allowed exclusives?
@Kaloudz the elder Scrolls is also an established franchise aswell as crash & spyro that started off on the ps1
@Widey85 'Hopefully MS will pull rank and remind the government and the CMA how many of their projects and departments rely on MS technology and partnerships'... So you're saying Microsoft should blackmail them lol
@Notoriousmakavel it was being developed for Xbox ,playstation & pc
@Grumblevolcano ah I see. I’m going to have to look up that “legacy” thing because I don’t remember that. I just remembered what SplooshDmg mentioned on here about a “case by case basis.”
I think I remember early on during this acquisition Activision said if the deal doesn’t go through that it would hurt their stocks or something similar to that. Would it be bad enough that they potentially could go under?
COD will probably remain multiplat, but if others become exclusive I won't lose any sleep.
@SplooshDmg thank you for finding the quote. I can see where some could possibly get confused or misunderstand the quote. The way you explain it totally makes sense.
Yeap the CMA the usual hypocritical competent corrupt government department in the U.K., everything they say about this deal is bull crap. They don’t protect the consumer one bit, never have I don’t think.
@xMightyMatt14x haha it’s worst! The government are now actively planning for staged blackouts due to energy shortages. But it’s nothing to do with Russia really, more so the decades of a complete lack of any planning and investment into U.K. energy security by British governments. When The last PM got in she closed the incentives the UKs renewable energy industry got, when Boris got in he closed North Sea energy production and storage facilities.. then told everyone we will have to spend 30 grand for heat pumps and we will have a nuclear power station on every street corner.. the energy companies are milking it for all they can, Shell and BP dig the stuff out of the ground and control it right to your door, they control the markets practically, and are making huge profits now.
@Widey85 People are beginning to stir now.. their may just may be a possibility we will rise up, and take the system down. And I’m not joking, look at the state the U.K. is in? Peoples moods and attitudes are beginning to change. We’ve had mass riots before…
I'm just not understanding this. Where was all this hoopla when Sony bought Naughty Dog, or when they made an exclusive Spider-Man game, or any of the dozens of times they've paid developers extra to put games on everything except for the Xbox? All of a sudden there's a problem lol
@IronMan30 yeah, no way Microsoft turns down the kind of money they stand to make by keeping COD multiplat. But don't be surprised if down the road we see something like a COD spinoff or something that is exclusive.
@Widey85 It's a Square choice. Exclusive deal with Sony has expired months ago and the game is out everywhere less Xbox.
Prolly square doesn't consider remunerative porting the game there
@Tzara FF16? It’s not out yet.
@S1ayeR74 wow! I’m sorry to hear that! Hopefully it’s not a bad winter so you guys can manage! And hopefully something gets sorted out soon!
@Would_you_kindly Lol more a joke that if Sony had bribed the CMA, fight fire with fire.
Thankfully while our system seems corrupt as hell the last few years with the bumbling clown in charge it's likely just bias / Sony lobbying that actual corruption.
They keep that for stuff like wallpaper and Covid contracts!
@S1ayeR74 Yep I was too young to remember the Poll Tax riots but this at least feels as bad as just before the 1997 election.
There's still some fanatics for the clown online / on vox pops but in reality I've never seen something unite the country in such anger and despair - even for those of us who wouldn't be left destitute by it all.
It's really a crisis that seems to be impacting the entire country except for the very rich, and I really don't see this government sorting it out before an election - but they may last till then as everyone's too overworked to riot!
This is ridiculous. Xbox exclusives are also on PC. Some on rival consoles! Where are their concerns about Sony's acquired studios and exclusives and Sony blocking their content on Xbox browser? I'm starting to think that Sony don't only pay third parties for blocking third-party games on Xbox, something that should really worry these institutions, but also pays these institutions. I can't find any other explanation for comments that sound as hypocritical as if were written by Sony.
@EvilSilentFrame @SplooshDmg He is nice but every single comment I read by him is the result of a misinterpretation or an illogical conclusion, or maybe it's just that he believes the wrong people only.
@xMightyMatt14x Yeah reports have monthly costs predicted at £800 a month for end of year with further rises predicted April. They increased 50% recently, another 80% October, then further rises April.
For context; millions of low icome households in the UK are lucky to make 800 a month.
Government is waffling about financial help, but anything touted so far falls WAY short & to cap it off: they won't nail anything down until after the tories have their silly leadership election to see who's stepping in at number 10. And, in that election, the choice is between a greedy b**tard & a stupid MF.
@gollumb82 This. The sanctimonious comments on this subject at Push Square slayed me. They’re okay with PlayStation exclusives, but Starfield and content exclusive to Xbox for multi platform games are crony capitalism and “will destroy the industry”.
@NeutronBomb not sure if you’ve ever watched South Park, but that reminds me of the episode where it’s the difference between a turd sandwich and I giant d***sh.
800 pounds?? That’s crazy! My heating bill is about 70 USD per month. In the winter it’ll maybe be 150 USD. Electric has gone up here. But we still have several coal based power plants in the middle of the US and states that produce coal. So even going higher I only pay about 250 USD for electric per month. Our current administration is trying to lessen coal production before there is a viable alternative though. So we will probably see drastic increases soon.
@xMightyMatt14x That's another option for the UK. We closed our mines famously in the 80's. We could reopen them.
Did they outright lie, though, @Rmg0731? Did they? When asked about exclusivity with regards to Bethesda games, Microsoft simply dodged the question. At no point, to my knowledge, did they say, don't worry, the games will be remain multiplatform, and then do the opposite once the deal had gone through. They just said nothing, allowed others to speculate, and then made their announcements once the deal had gone though. I believe the closest they came to saying anything substantial, prior to the deal going through, was to say that exclusivity would be decided on a game to game basis (i.e: some games would be exclusive, others maybe not). I don't think they ever actually lied. Being evasive, or not commenting, is not lying...
Good on the CMA. If MS are saying they're committed to keeping big titles from the studios they buy cross platform, and then don't make big titles from studios they buy cross platform then maybe they're telling fibs.
Is the CMA seriously posing that a company buying another company and using that purchase to grow their market, strengthen their synergy, and leverage those assets to strengthen their product portfolio and market position is to be avoided?
Does the CMA propose why any company would buy any other company if those results are to be avoided?
I'm all for regulation scrutinizing our destiny of a 2 company per industry oligarchy, but.....this line of arguments seems to be asking the wrong questions about the wrong things.
How dare the UK government favour one multi-billion pound organisation over the other!
I really hope the one I love is given permission to get even richer so I can sleep better at night.
ES is big but not COD big and Starfield had no announced platforms when they revealed it. Sure, people assumed it would include PS, but that was no guarantee. There really is no comparison between Starfield and COD, the latter of which MS has explicitly stated will come to PS.
I know it's an odd feeling for entitled PS gamers and apparently the market that some good games won't come to their favorite console, but that's life.
Edit: before you chime in and say something about me, I own a Switch and an XSX. I've been a Nintendo fan for ages, so it's really not at all a weird feeling to see some games skip my favorite console. Not even a little bit.
Nintendo is fine without cod and other big AAA games release, sony will be fine too if they have their own exclusive.
But considering console is basically cheaper pc now, I think most people will be geared towards to pc since it has more and cheaper games, plus there's gamepass pc too.
Exclusive are more important than ever so it's weird sony port their own games to pc.
It is their job to be ‘concerned’ until those concerns have been dealt with. If a competition agency were just waving through large deals and not concerned about anything beforehand, what is the point?
Why else buy the studios? I don't understand why he has to lie about it though. Exclusives always run better than multiplatform games.
@armondo36 Sony bought Naughty Dog years ago. They never even worked on an Xbox game before. That would be like a PS fan complaining about MS buying Playground games. Playground, to my knowledge, has never made a Playstation game.
Insomniac was pretty much a Sony studio. Marvel is the one that went to Sony and asked them to make a game. Why would Sony make a game for Xbox to have? I mean if Marvel went to Xbox with the same offer, I would not expect them to release the game on Playstation. Why would they?
I completely understand what you're conveying. Just not feeling the examples. Although you're technically right about the Insomniac scenario. The Spiderman example is wrong though.
Games that launched Multiplatform and became big while being multiplatform should always stay multiplatform. If that IP is being sold then it should only be sold to an outside company that will guarantee that the games will stay multiplatform. If this was the case then all of these stories, rumours etc wouldn't be happening at all and all gamers would still be able to play thier multiplatform games on thier preferred device. The actual gamers win and the "Console wars" will be solely based on hardware and first party titles.
@gollumb82 that's what I'm saying! It's all right for Sony to have exclusives like God of war last of Us Spider-Man horizon ect! But everybody's up and arms if Microsoft does it! That's business I mean honestly do you think Nintendo would ever give anybody the rights to Mario or Zelda?!? Hell no! It's called business I don't see what the big issue is here!
Should remain multiplatform? Why? Is there a law that states that? No? So it's just your assumption then. Same as most Sony fans. It's a business. Nobody said exclusives are to be made 'organically' only, as Sony fans like to describe it. I won't be affected either way as I game on both PS5/XSX, but this narrative about exclusives coming from Sony fans is laughable. You won't ever be able to play all the games you want on one system only.
@gollumb82 I also own both and obviously my comment is my own opinion, I thought that would be very obvious considering I'm just someone commenting on an article like you. Your tone about sony fans though is very telling and I'm thinking you should seek some sort of meditation to lower your blood pressure, have a nice day 😊
Nah, just checked it. It's stable 😎 Sorry if I came across as rude. You are entitled to your own opinion, but I still think these double standards for exclusives on Sony fans' part are silly. Have a nice day as well!
@gollumb82 All good, I'm sorry my reply was rude. I fully understand where you're coming from. I just firmly believe that a game shouldn't be taken away from gamers because they didn't own the correct console at the time and thus that's why I think games that launched Multiplatform should remain multiplatform. If Sony had bought Activision I would be saying the exact same thing and Xbox users would be worried about the prospects of cod no longer being on Xbox in the years to come.
@BlazeGawd007 I'm sorry but I don't believe that's why PlayStation gamers are angry because the games you mention are first party games created for that console like marvel spiderman for playstation and Halo for xbox. I believe it's because a game that was created multiplatform is possibly being taken away from a platform and obviously due to playstation being the platform that cod could be removed from then that's why they're angry and I believe that if the tables were turned and it was xbox where cod could possibly be taken away then the anger would be coming from xbox fans.
No worries 🙂 As for MS's acquisitions, it seems their studios wouldn't be able to provide the games necessary to compete with Sony. I realise it's not fair to those with only one console, but getting a Series S is not a big deal in financial terms. If I had to be honest, I'd say that I'm looking forward to one subscription service that offers both Sony's and MS's games (unlikely, but not impossible) or one console (highly unlikely). If PC gaming becomes more affordable I'll consider that. I'm weary of this fragmentation of the gaming market as in the VOD streaming market.
Mate in the UK right now our energy bills are so high that alot of people including myself are cutting back on excess just to cover the energy prices, I'm very lucky because I was bought my series X as a Bday present from my family but right now £250 on a series s is way way out of scope on what's available to spend. Obviously gaming is a luxury but now more than ever gaming will take a back seat.
For so many people, gaming as well as other sectors are going to see less revenue due to people cutting costs, I foresee Netflix being in even worse trouble it already is in and Disney pus losing revenue as well as any streaming service including gamepass and ps extra. The next year is going to really hard but also interesting to see how bad businesses are effected by loss of revenue.
Edit: This comment isn't meant to be an angry reply or rude in anyway and I apologise if it comes across like that.
This is my first thought when I see things like this: It's okay for Sony to have exclusives but not for Xbox.
It also sounds a bit like Xbox is getting blasted for wanting to add it to Game Pass day and date while PS5 owners will have to pay at least $70 for it.
@Kaloudz I'll answer, Yes people are stupid a blood pact won't cure stupidity unfortunately. Yes your right but this is EXCLUSIVELY for Gamepass reasons Microsoft/Xbox sees Gamepass as the future. Will there be timed/exclusive skins to, probably. The main thing is bringing it to Gamepass at launch for no extra cost. Sony has been caught paying devs to keep there games off Gamepass so they asked for this now they will just buy the right to do so. Is it Microsofts fault they have deeper pockets...NO. Would they make COD Exclusive HECK NO there is no money in that they have to recoup the purchase made and going that route would be like making Minecraft exclusive THATS WHAT THESE DUMMIES should be focusing on. IMO thats the comparison to owning COD. I despise COD so trust me I could care less.
@Valgore not me think the cod is *****! & I've never played wow or am I interested! Actually the only game out of the whole acquisition that I would even play would maybe be crash bandicoot! Was only nameing a few titles as there are plenty more that are not available for other consoles. The point is that Microsoft has come a long way in providing for the customers Sony actually pays money to make sure that Microsoft doesn't get a lot of that games especially ones that are trying to come to game pass! I was a Sony guy for many many years since the first PlayStation console I just recently switched about 4 or 5 years ago because I just hate everything that sony represents! Ps+is crap and I don't have money to be buying new games every 2 months so I saw a game pass & a company company that's trying to get as many games to people as possible on PC and console and there's just way more bang for my buck there! Not saying you're wrong these are just my opinions people are always going to be upset about one game or another not being available in their console unless you're lucky enough to be able to afford one of each console. I don't even think it's a Sony or a Microsoft thing it's more of a people thing it's just human nature. Some people feel slighted if there's a certain game they want but they can't play cuz it's not available to them and that goes both ways for both consoles like I said I used to be a Sony guy but then I evaluated the two and it was way more bang for my buck with Microsoft. And by being able to access so many different games on game pass I literally got my series X for free with reward points from ms! And them buying more and more companies even more solidifies the fact that I made a choice that was best for me and what I like. And I'm only saying this so you don't think I'm some lifelong Microsoft guy I just switched and have been very satisfied ever since!
I'm making a standalone comment as well. Bethesda should not be in the picture as I feel Mincraft is more comparable and relevant to this deal. Microsoft aquired Mojang and Minecraft is on every gaming device known to man/woman. COD will be given the same treatment simply from a profit standpoint alone. I also will restate that Sony has gone out of its way to keep games off of Gamepass so in my eyes this is on Sony and Sony alone. The future is in Gamepass not XBOX consoles. They have invested everything into the cloud and Gamepass. So in my eyes we need to look at Sony as to why they are trying to corner the market by making sure they don't succeed... I wont reply to anyones troll/fanboy thoughts ie. Sony isnt doing that ect. on this so don't bother. Sony just aquired Bungie and im way more worried about that then ill ever be if this. We've already seen what they have done with that. I have no fears i wont be able to play COD on PS5 if i so chose (I won't but even if i did, simply cause i prefer online games on Xbox). Fact is sack up let Microsoft aquire them because nothing will happen the way there concerns are saying will happen. As a whole it'll only help the industry and get us gaming on more devices in more places. Hotels laptops ect with Gamepass which I to see as the future of gaming.
@BlazeGawd007 I get you but I don't buy into Sony blocking games going to gamepass, I'm not saying they don't do it but I don't know, same as you and any other random doesn't know, right now that's only speculation. I mean the whole cult of the lamb thing was blown by the devs stating that sony didn't block them from gamepass but obviously when proof is shown then I'll believe but I don't really listen to rumours and gossip.
So if Sony makes Destiny 2 exclusive then that should be cool as well, right?
Iove it.. Sony buys exclusives with 3rd parties, they pay devs to keep games off of gamepass, they require games to have parity between PlayStation & Xbox which means the Xbox version can't have noticeably better visuals, performance or extra features otherwise they can't release on PlayStation.
They just bought the biggest live service game developer and arguably the only one to really get it mostly right.
Microsoft is going to get screwed over by Sony complaining about this to the EU when all Sony wanted was like 8 years of cod instead of 6 because cod isn't going to be popular forever, nothing is.
They prevent this deal out of some petty nonsense they could have easily worked out and Microsoft's gloves will end up coming off and they will pay for exclusive after exclusive after exclusive out of pure spite and everyone knows they could easily afford to do it.
Hell paradox just cancelled a gamepass launch despite knowing it's highly profitable... Wonder why
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