As you’ve probably already seen, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s “Observations on the CMA’s Issues Statement” from October 2022 was publicly revealed earlier today as part of the ongoing investigation into Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition, and it’s basically a long list of reasons why Sony doesn’t think the deal should go ahead.
We’ve heard a lot of this stuff before — arguments about Call of Duty being too important to the brand, concerns about Xbox and Game Pass exclusivity, etc — but one of the particularly eyebrow-raising statements is that Sony believes Microsoft wants PlayStation to “become like Nintendo”.
Sony mentions in its observations that Microsoft has pointed out how Nintendo’s ongoing success hasn’t relied on Call of Duty whatsoever, with Sony arguing that “this misses the point”, explaining how Nintendo has traditionally “focused on family-friendly games that are very different from PEGI 18 FPS games like Call of Duty”.
This, according to Sony, “reveals Microsoft’s true strategy”:
“Microsoft claims that Nintendo’s differentiated model demonstrates that PlayStation doesn’t need Call of Duty to compete effectively. But this reveals Microsoft’s true strategy.
Microsoft wants PlayStation to become like Nintendo, so that it would be a less close and effective competitor to Xbox. Post-Transaction, Xbox would become the one-stop-shop for all the best-selling shooter franchises on console (Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, + Doom, Overwatch), as the Decision explains, and it would then be free from serious competitive pressure.”
The statement talks a lot about Call of Duty specifically and how Sony is concerned about it being taken away from the PlayStation platform, although Microsoft has since claimed that a 10-year offer has been made to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation, and Phil Spencer continues to advise that the IP isn’t going to be exclusive to Xbox – in fact, Microsoft still wants to bring it to Nintendo Switch as well!
Don’t be surprised if we keep seeing these back-and-forth statements between Microsoft and Sony over the next six months as the investigations continue, although with any luck it’ll all be done and dusted by the mid-point of 2023.