Not too long ago (although it all seems like a blur at this point), Microsoft ordered Sony to attend court to present its findings regarding Xbox's Activision Blizzard purchase. That court trial hasn't gone ahead yet — the hearing is currently planned for August 2nd — but it seems like Sony isn't too happy with Microsoft's requests in the lead-up to the trial.
A series of new documents have been filed in relation to the case over the last few weeks, spotted by Axios, and it sounds like Sony isn't best pleased with what's going on. To use the Japanese firm's own wording - Microsoft is apparently committing "obvious harassment" with its requests for internal information from Sony.
There's a lot to go at with this latest stage of back-and-forth bickering between Sony and Microsoft. The general gist of it all is that Microsoft wants loads of information on Sony in relation to the deal, and Sony feels that Microsoft is asking for too much internal info from the PlayStation owner. First up, here's the intro to Microsoft's first punch:
"Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE)—whose gaming business has dwarfed Xbox’s for 20 years—is not an ordinary third party in this action. At great expense and over an extended period, SIE has deployed delegations of executives, large teams of outside lawyers, and high-priced economists to persuade regulators here and around the world to block Microsoft Corp.’s (“Microsoft’s”) proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.
SIE’s efforts are paying off: The FTC’s complaint in this action is chock-full of allegations about the effects the deal will have on SIE’s business. This case is as much about SIE as it is about Xbox and Activision. Timely discovery from SIE is therefore critical to Microsoft’s defense."
And here's a brief look at Sony's stance on matters:
"Microsoft’s Subpoena to SIE is truly massive. Since receiving it, SIE has engaged in five meet and confers with Microsoft, served a 55-page set of detailed written responses and objections at Microsoft’s demand, and had extensive correspondence with Microsoft.
On the evening of February 1, 2023, SIE and Microsoft generally agreed that SIE would produce files from seven identified custodians, but numerous additional scope issues remained. SIE requested an extension of time to resolve these, but Microsoft refused unless SIE agreed to file a partial motion to quash on the issue of Microsoft’s choice two days later. This gamesmanship by Microsoft is inefficient and inappropriate."
"Microsoft’s demand for performance reviews for SIE’s leadership is obvious harassment. Even in employment cases courts require a specific showing of relevance before requiring production of personnel files."
This is all starting to feel a bit scrappy, isn't it? The US FTC is effectively stuck in the middle here, and we'll have to see how the US authority deals with both sides of the argument. Either way, it doesn't feel like we're any closer to a conclusion than we were last year, at least in the US.
The Activision Blizzard drama has been progressing here in the UK as well, with the CMA delivering its latest report on the deal. Things aren't sounding incredibly positive from any of these regulators right now, but we must stress that no final decisions have been made by the CMA, the EU or the FTC just yet.