Coming on the heels of reports that the US Federal Trade Commission may be on the verge of filing an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, now there’s talk that Microsoft will make concessions in order to preserve the deal in Europe.
This comes via a report from Reuters, claiming that Microsoft has been working on a strategy to make some concessions to prevent the deal from being scuttled by regulators. In the European Union, a list of competitive concerns and potential conflicts will be out in January. This document, known as a statement of objection, is still in the works, so Microsoft seems to be working to reduce the potential list of concerns before it is formally published.
Central to the reported considerations is an offer to license Activision Blizzard games, including Call of Duty, to Sony for a 10-year period. This reflects the recent reporting by the New York Times on a similar 10-year proposal for the CoD franchise to remain on PlayStation.
Sony, in the UK regulatory process, has issued statements expressing concern over Call of Duty, one of the biggest global franchises, and Microsoft’s potential planned exclusivity. The company has bought companies like Bethesda and made upcoming games Xbox and PC-exclusives, so platform exclusivity isn’t out of the question. Yet, Activision Blizzard is one the biggest developers and publishers out there.
The Reuters report included a statement by lawyer Stephane Dionnet, of McDermott Will & Emery, noting that, “Ultimately, such a move could secure an early clearance with the European Commission and subsequently be used by the parties before other antitrust agencies” like the US FTC and the CMA in the UK. Yet, it’s not clear whether any potential concessions may be accepted.
This process is clearly going to take a while yet, and while the deal has been approved so far in places like Brazil and Saudi Arabia, its biggest tests are coming. Offering to reduce reasons for anti-competitive concern might be one way to let things squeak through.