After a US judge rejected a request from US regulators to block the deal, Microsoft’s chances of taking over major games publisher Activision Blizzard have increased significantly.
Microsoft stated that it would concentrate on resolving UK issues following the victory in the US.
The biggest deal of its kind in the history of the gaming industry would be the tech giant merging with the owner of Call of Duty.
Investors bet on Activision’s success, which led to a more than 10% increase in the company’s stock.
Regulators in the United States had argued that such a deal, which was worth $69 billion (£56 billion) last year, would hurt gamers and reduce competition because it would give Microsoft, the company that makes the Xbox, the power to deny competitors access to Activision’s games.
While challenging the plans, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requested an emergency block on the deal, which is scheduled to close later this month.
However, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley stated that the regulator would not prevail in its case.
In her decision, which was handed down following a week-long hearing in San Francisco, Judge Scott Corley wrote, “The FTC has not shown it is likely to succeed on its assertion the combined firm will probably pull Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation, or that its ownership of Activision content will substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets.”
The strongest indication so far that the tech giant’s purchase will proceed is the US ruling.
It comes after the European Union approved the deal, and an attempt to stop the merger in the UK is currently being appealed.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said the organization was “thankful” for the speedy choice and would now turn its concentration to the UK.
He and the Competition and Markets Authority of the United Kingdom stated that they had reached an agreement to put the litigation on hold while the company came up with a solution to the issues, which had centered on the cloud gaming market.
A spokesperson for the CMA stated, “We stand ready to consider any proposals from Microsoft to restructure the transaction in a way that would address the concerns set out in our final report.”
Microsoft, which is attempting to keep up with market leaders Nintendo and PlayStation by investing heavily in gaming content that may encourage players to choose its platforms, including the Xbox console, over its rivals, appears poised to receive a significant victory from the developments.
Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch are all produced by Activision Blizzard, which also owns King, the mobile game developer behind Candy Crush Saga.
Regulators relied heavily on the Call of Duty franchise’s future.
In a video deposition, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan stated that Microsoft would likely restrict PlayStation users’ access to the series or provide them with a reduced version, arguing in favor of regulators.
Microsoft, on the other hand, stated that it had offered Sony a 10-year license for the game and argued that it would not make financial sense to restrict access to such a large following.
“Our consolidation will help purchasers and laborers. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated following the ruling, “It will enable competition rather than allow established market leaders to continue to dominate our rapidly growing industry.”
In a message to staff shared by the organization he added: ” We are ready to work with UK regulators to address any remaining concerns so that our merger can close quickly, and we are optimistic that today’s ruling indicates a path to full regulatory approval elsewhere in the world.”
The US decision is not always the end of the process. The FTC can pursue the decision. It has also challenged the merger separately in a separate administrative court proceeding.
FTC spokesperson Douglas Farrar stated, “We are disappointed in this outcome given the clear threat this merger poses to open competition in cloud gaming, subscription services, and consoles.” In the coming days, we will announce our next move to maintain competition and safeguard customers.”
Call of Duty developer
The Call of Duty franchise is developed by multiple studios under the publisher Activision. The primary studios responsible for developing the mainline games on a rotating basis are:
- Infinity Ward: Infinity Ward is one of the original developers of the series. They have created various installments, including the Modern Warfare series (e.g., Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,: Modern Warfare Remastered) and: Ghosts.
- Treyarch: Treyarch is another long-standing developer of the Call of Duty franchise. They have developed games such as Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Call of Duty: World at War, and the Black Ops series (e.g., Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War).
- Sledgehammer Games: Sledgehammer Games joined the Call of Duty development cycle with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and has since developed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty: WWII.
|Developer||Games developed||Notable features|
|Infinity Ward||Call of Duty (2003), Call of Duty 2 (2005), Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), Modern Warfare 2 (2009), Modern Warfare 3 (2011)||Created the Call of Duty engine, responsible for the first 4 Call of Duty games|
|Treyarch||Call of Duty: World at War (2008), Black Ops (2010), Black Ops II (2012), Black Ops III (2015), Black Ops 4 (2018), Black Ops Cold War (2020)||Zombies mode, popular multiplayer mode|
|Sledgehammer Games||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011), Advanced Warfare (2014), WWII (2017), Vanguard (2022)||Cooperative campaign mode, popular single-player mode|
These three studios typically take turns developing the mainline Call of Duty titles, ensuring a new installment is released each year. Additionally, other studios, such as Raven Software, Beenox, and High Moon Studios, often provide support or collaborate with the primary developers on specific aspects of the games or help with ports and remasters.
It’s worth noting that this information is accurate as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, and the specific studios involved in Call of Duty development may have evolved since then.