Microsoft is rumoured to be preparing concessions for EU regulators in regard to its acquisition of Activision, according to a source who spoke with Reuters. The main remedy to getting the deal approved would be to offer Sony a 10-year licensing deal, so it would retain access to Call of Duty for at least a decade after the deal is agreed. It was announced earlier this month that the EU was investigating the acquisition and that a decision would be made in March.
Microsoft’s acquisition is facing challenges from the EU and the UK right now, and the U.S. could also launch an investigation. Other countries, such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia, are less concerned and have already given the go-ahead for Microsoft’s purchase of Activision.
“Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we've said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters. “We want people to have more access to games, not less.”
Sony, the maker of PlayStation, has been sounding the alarm about the acquisition as it believes Microsoft’s ownership of a famous title like Call of Duty would harm competition. In a document Sony gave to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, the Japanese firm told the regulator that Microsoft had only offered to keep Activision games available on PlayStation until 2027 – this is around the time that the next PlayStation is due to launch.
Microsoft, naturally, has tried to play down these fears. In its report to the CMA, it told the regulator that PlayStation has better exclusives and therefore the acquisition wouldn’t be a threat. It also said that it would not be pulling Activision titles from the PlayStation. It’s not clear whose claims should be believed, but regulators won’t take any chances and will fully scrutinize the deal.
If Microsoft fails to gain approval in a certain territory, it could probably go ahead with the acquisition, but wouldn’t be able to sell the affected products in that country. Then again, the CMA recently ordered Facebook to stop its acquisition of Giphy altogether, so Microsoft could face something similar where it’d have to forget about the acquisition altogether.