What you need to know
- Microsoft is trying to purchase Activision-Blizzard for a cool $69 billion.
- Competition regulators across the globe are scrutinizing the deal, with Sony PlayStation as the biggest opponent.
- Microsoft has announced partnerships for Call of Duty to waylay regulator concerns, including Nintendo, NVIDIA GeForce Now, and now, Ukraine-based cloud provider Boosteroid.
In another rebuttal to regulators over "competition concerns," Microsoft just unveiled another 10-year agreement for Call of Duty, with Ukraine-based Boosteroid.
Boosteroid is currently the largest independent cloud gaming provider in the world, and highlights Microsoft's investment in the region besieged by the Putin regime's barbaric invasion.
Currently embattled in regulatory drama over its $69 billion dollar acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, Microsoft has repeatedly faced accusations that it could foreclose competitors by denying access to franchises like Call of Duty. This deal joins similar ones penned in for Nintendo, NVIDIA GeForce Now, and Steam to maintain broad access to the world's most popular shooter franchise, in much the same way that Microsoft has for Minecraft.
Microsoft President Brad Smith emphasized the company's commitment to ensuring Call of Duty is available anywhere and everywhere. “This partnership builds on the $430 million in technology and financial assistance we have provided Ukraine since Russia’s unlawful invasion, and it exemplifies the steps we will continue to take to support Ukraine’s 160,000 software developers. It also adds to our recent agreements with Nintendo and NVIDIA, making even more clear to regulators that our acquisition of Activision Blizzard will make ‘Call of Duty’ available on far more devices than before.”
Players deserve more choice than they have now when it comes their favorite games. Today we've signed a 10-year deal with @Boosteroid_main enabling players to stream Xbox PC games, including Activision Blizzard PC titles like CoD following after close https://t.co/Xso6ykadw1March 14, 2023
Regulators like the UK CMA and European Union are still making decisions about whether or not to let the deal go ahead. The U.S. FTC has already sued to block the deal, but other regulators such as those in Brazil and Saudi Arabia have approved the deal already unconditionally. Whether or not the deal will go ahead remains entirely at the discretion of the EU, U.S., and UK ultimately, which incorporate Microsoft's biggest markets. Sony PlayStation has been the biggest opponent of the deal, as it seeks to preserve the status quo of a retail-based $70 boxed video game industry, to the detriment of more affordable subscription services like Xbox Game Pass.
Windows Central's take
I suspect this won't be the last deal Microsoft announces between now and final regulatory decisions for Call of Duty. Microsoft is quite cleverly using the regulator's own arguments against them. Regulators claim that Microsoft could foreclose Call of Duty from competing platforms, and Microsoft is doing everything to demonstrate that the opposite is true by offering it everywhere and anywhere. If it truly is about competition, and not simply preserving Sony's industry-leader status, then surely this is the kind of thing regulators would like, right?
Last month, Sony bizarrely claimed that Microsoft may introduce bugs and performance degradation in the PlayStation versions of Call of Duty, despite Microsoft's offer of creating legally binding parity clauses to that effect. Microsoft has also offered to implement independent overseers to ensure that it maintains its agreements in good faith, which is something the firm had to do when it acquired LinkedIn in years past. Will regulators buy it? Only time will tell.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!