Xbox Activision Blizzard deal will prompt US monopoly investigation say experts

Microsoft’s plan to buy Activision Blizzard is not guaranteed to happen, and the sticking point is likely to be Call Of Duty.

The news of Microsoft planning to acquire Activision Blizzard is just the latest in a long stream of consolidations in the entertainment industry, from Disney’s purchase of Marvel and Lucasfilm to the likes of EA and Take-Two buying up smaller companies seemingly at a whim.

The US government has never interfered with any of them but there’s much speculation that Microsoft’s record-breaking $68.7 billion bid for Activision Blizzard will not escape scrutiny.

Analyst firm Wedbush Securities has stated that it expects the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the deal, primarily because of its impact on PlayStation console sales.

‘Because Call Of Duty has been the bestselling game over the last 18 years on the PlayStation platform, we think it is likely that regulators will restrict the terms of the combination and require Microsoft to continue to offer Activision Blizzard (and perhaps other) games to Sony under substantially the same terms as it has been offered in the past’, said Wedbush in a note to press.

That is only their prediction, but similar sentiments have been shared ever since the news was announced, with Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier suggesting that the deal is ‘the type of horizontal merging that the DOJ frowns upon’.

There’s already been speculation that Microsoft will continue to publish Call Of Duty on PlayStation formats purely because of the amount of money it makes, much as they do with Minecraft – which they kept multiformat even after buying it.

The Xbox would undoubtedly get additional perks but at the moment the idea of Call Of Duty becoming an Xbox exclusive is not guaranteed.

Since Activision publishes very few other games of note, and most of Blizzard’s titles, with the exception of Overwatch, are predominately or solely PC games, there’s not necessarily that much else for investigators to object to.

Whether they’ll have a more general issue with Microsoft swallowing up independent games companies, and making it harder for others to compete, is harder to say, especially as Sony isn’t a US company, but the purchase of Activision Blizzard is still unlikely to be a straightforward one.

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