Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan has reportedly made his company’s stance on Microsoft’s proposed buyout of Activision Blizzard very, very clear.
As part of the ongoing discussions between the respective companies and regulators from the EU and UK regarding the viability of the intended buyout, Sony recently informed the latter’s Competition and Markets Authority of their concern that should the deal go through, Microsoft could underhandedly kneecap the competition by releasing intentionally inferior versions of Activision Blizzard’s multiplatform titles to Sony’s PlayStation consoles.
“For example, Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates,” Sony told the regulatory agency. “Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty Indeed, as Modern Warfare II attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release.
“If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue,” they added.
Further, the documents indicate that Sony has come no closer to reaching an agreement with Microsoft on their previously proposed ten-year deal to guarantee that Call of Duty would still appear on PlayStation platforms (The same offer was extended to Nvidia and Nintendo, both of whom have since accepted on behalf of their future PC hardware and consoles, respectively).
“That proposal fails to provide adequate protection for PlayStation’s access to Call of Duty or for competition,” accused Sony. “Instead, it reveals Microsoft’s lack of commitment to ensuring full and equal access to Call of Duty, confirms the risks of a behavioural remedy outlined in the Guidelines, and reinforces SIE’s belief that Microsoft intends to use Call of Duty to dominate the gaming sector.
Conducting his own independent review of the documents, The Verge Senior Editor Tom Warren balked at the claim.
“Sony suggests to the CMA that Microsoft could release a buggy version of Call of Duty on PlayStation which could make gamers lose confidence ‘in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty,‘” he tweeted via his personal account. “Seriously…”
However, Activision Blizzard’s Lulu Cheng Meservey found Sony’s claims to be no laughing matter, as according to her, their continued refusal to accept any sort of Call of Duty deal was based not on any sense of self-preservation, but rather pure malice.
Retweeting Warren, Meservey explained, “Microsoft offered Sony (the dominant console leader for well over a decade, with 80% market share) a 10 year agreement on far better terms than Sony would ever get from us.”
“We’ve also offered Sony guaranteed long-term access to Call of Duty,” said Meservey. “But they keep refusing. Why?”
To this end, Meservey then alleged, “The CEO of SIE answered that question [during a recent negotiation session held] in Brussels. In his words: I don’t want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.”
As of writing, no further representatives of any of the involved parties have publicly commented on Meservey’s claim.