As the video game industry continues to wait to see if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will file an antitrust suit against Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft is speaking out again about why the proposed deal is supposedly “good for gamers”.
The Wall Street Journal posted an op-ed from Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith, in which Smith addressed Sony’s position as the biggest opponent of the acquisition.
“Sony has emerged as the main objector,” Smith wrote. “It’s as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix.” To conclude his piece, Smith said, “Think about how much better it is to stream a movie from your couch than drive to Blockbuster. We want to bring the same kind of innovation to the video game industry.”
Despite comparing Sony to the legacy video store, Smith continued Microsoft’s ongoing self-deprecating strategy, saying that Xbox “remains third in console gaming, tied behind Sony’s dominant PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch.”
Microsoft’s president also claimed that Xbox doesn’t have enough games to attract players to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, and again reiterated Microsoft’s plans to keep Call of Duty a multiplatform franchise.
“To gain subscribers to this service, Microsoft needs a full library of popular games and as things stand, we simply don’t have enough of them,” Smith wrote.
In November, Politico reported that the FTC would “probably” file an antitrust suit to block the massive acquisition. At the time, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told IGN that “any suggestion that the transaction could lead to anti-competitive effects is completely absurd.”
The report pointed out that the lawsuit is not guaranteed and that the FTC’s four commissioners have not yet met with lawyers from Microsoft and Activision. However, the FTC commissioners are reportedly skeptical of the companies’ arguments, and the commission has recently sued to block two major mergersindicating that there’s a good chance the same could happen here.
If the FTC files an antitrust suit, a recent report by Bloomberg indicates that “Microsoft is gearing up to challenge that decision in court”.
Smith’s op-ed is the latest in a series of statements from Microsoft trying to push through the merger. Several times during the acquisition review process, Microsoft promised That Activision’s Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation after the takeover. Microsoft also called PlayStation Too big to fail while saying Xbox has a “number of significant drawbacks” compared to its rival platforms.
Sony is also playing the self-deprecating game, saying Battlefield can’t keep up with Call of Duty and claiming “Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly.”
The FTC’s investigation is the latest hurdle to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition, as the deal has also come under scrutiny from the European Commission, various US senators, New York City and the US Department of Justice.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of gaming industry experience with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.