It seems Microsoft has finally taken the gloves off for the fight for Activision Blizzard King.
Microsoft’s corporate vice president for communications Frank X Shaw accused Sony of lying to the European Commission when they met last week in regards to Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard King.
Frank shared this statement, very publicly, on Twitter:
“I hear Sony is briefing people in Brussels claiming Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We’ve been clear we’ve offered Sony a 10 year deal to give them parity on timing, content, features, quality, playability, and any other aspect of the game. We’ve also said we’re happy to make this enforceable through a contract, regulatory agreements, or other means.
Sony is the console market leader and it would defy business logic for us to exclude PlayStation gamers from the Call of Duty ecosystem.
Our goal is to bring Call of Duty and other games – as we did with Minecraft – to more people around the world so they can play them where and how they want.”
When we first reported on Sony’s meeting with the EU, the source hadn’t disclosed the details of said meeting. They did confirm that no less than Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan met with Margrethe Vestager, who is Commissioner for Competition in the European Commission, as well as Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age.
We cannot independently verify if these were the statements Sony gave to the EU, but we can confirm that Microsoft has consistently stated they offered Sony a 10 year deal to keep publishing Call of Duty on their platforms. They made this claim all the way back in November of last year, and stated that Sony has not yet agreed to. They also confirmed making deals now with Nintendo and Valve to publish Call of Duty on their platforms, which they would be able to enforce after the deal is approved by regulators.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has criticized Sony for their conduct while regulators have been investigating the deal. Team Xbox head Phil Spencer accused Sony of growing their business by making Xbox smaller. Much earlier on, they stated that Sony had paid for games to not be added to Gamepass, to point out that Sony’s complaint about exclusivity harming competition is “incoherent, to say the least.”
This time, however, this isn’t a rumored statement from inside the company or a passing comment on a podcast that may or may not spread around. Microsoft had their head of communications put this statement up on a public platform, about one of Sony’s highest ranked executives.
Of course, if Microsoft’s claims turn out to be true, it would be an incredible show of bad faith by Sony, and something that could backfire on them. Remember, this is about more than pleasing fans who prefer PlayStation or Xbox. The European Commission will not take too kindly to a company they are regulating on multiple fronts lying to them to gain or retain a market advantage. Of course, this would also affect the ongoing investigations by other regulators as well, including UK’s CMA and FTC’s lawsuit.