While Sony is fighting hard to get regulators to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Battlefield is at the center of that controversy. In a filing with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sony claims that Call of Duty is a uniquely important PlayStation console franchise and cannot be replaced by games like Battlefield. Microsoft will control the franchise if its deal to acquire Activision Blizzard goes ahead:
“Call of Duty is unplayable. Call of Duty is too ingrained for any rival, no matter how good, to catch up. It has been the top-selling game almost every year for the past decade, and in the first-person shooter genre, it is the top-selling game. Other publishers don’t have the resources or experience to achieve the same success. To give a concrete example, Electronic Arts – one of the biggest third-party developers after Activision – has been trying for years to create a Call of Duty competitor in the form of its Battlefield series. Despite the similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield – and despite EA’s track record in developing other successful AAA franchises (such as FIFA, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Star Wars: Battlefront) – the Battlefield franchise can’t keep up. As of August 2021, Call of Duty has sold over 400 million copies, while Battlefield has sold just 88.7 million copies.”
Arguments like this are not uncommon when company lawyers argue with regulators about who should or should not be allowed to acquire companies. But it’s strange to see how marketing and legal statements break through the ceiling of exaggeration.
Microsoft also resorted to grotesquely exaggerated arguments in its appeals to the CMA. Here’s how Tom Warren of The Verge described Microsoft’s arguments:
“Microsoft’s full CMA response includes parts where the company comically tries to make it look like it has some kind of junk, not games, and can’t compete. Microsoft states that the Xbox is “last in last place among consoles”, “number seven on PC”, and “nowhere in global mobile game distribution”. Microsoft says it has no reason to hurt or hurt competing cloud gaming services as it wants to “encourage the major changes in consumer behavior needed for cloud gaming to succeed.”
In a similar vein, Meta tried to argue that the company should be allowed to buy Giphy in its correspondence with the CMA, pointing out that GIFs are actually unpopular and young people hate them:
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“There are signs of a general decline in GIF usage,” Meta said, later adding that “market comments and user attitudes towards GIFs on social media show that they have fallen out of favor as a form of content, and younger users in particular are describing GIFs. epithets “for boomers” and “subserviently”.
The CMA, as can be seen from the result, did not find this argument persuasive.
In addition to the UK regulator, the European Commission is also investigating Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The US Federal Trade Commission has also expressed interest in taking a closer look at the deal. The activity of national regulators does not yet allow us to talk about the imminent closing of the deal.
Electronic Arts report: Best quarter by many measures, Apex Legends growth and FIFA 2022 strong start, but Battlefield 2042 ‘failed to live up to expectations’