Xbox and Activision: New Zealand postpones decision, acquisition at risk?

Xbox and Activision: New Zealand postpones decision, acquisition at risk?

Xbox and Activision

Although Saudi Arabia has already moved forward, New Zealand is (once again) taking time. As reported on Twitter, in fact, the country's government has decided to postpone for the third time a decision regarding the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, which will bring the publisher and developer right into the Xbox family.
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This is not the only country that has yet to approve this acquisition. Beyond Saudi Arabia, which has already given the green light to the operation, all over the world the various authorities have yet to give the green light to the "marriage" between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. Marriage that is not necessarily successful: while assuming the success of the operation, there is already a precedent that demonstrates that not all acquisitions are approved: this is the case of Nvidia and ARM, with England which blocked the deal.

(FYI) New Zealand has delayed it's decision again on the Microsoft / ABK deal to Nov 11th


Credit to @ eXtas1stv for the find

- Idle Sloth (@ IdleSloth84) September 9, 2022

The Two Paths For Xbox-Owned ‘Call Of Duty,’ And PlayStation

Activision Blizzard


This debate between Microsoft and Sony, Xbox and PlayStation, Phil Spencer and Jim Ryan, has resulted in a lot of hypocrisy and posturing, as I pointed out yesterday. But in terms of how this actually shakes out, to me, there are really only two paths forward for the Call of Duty saga, in terms of what Microsoft will do with the series once it fully owns it. Yes, I am saying “once,” because despite all these debates, I do not think there is anything that is going to actually kill the Activision Blizzard deal, only delay it, at worst.

Path 1: Call of Duty Stays On PlayStation Indefinitely

We know that Phil has given Sony three more years of Call of Duty on PlayStation through a signed deal, but after that, there’s nothing to say it can’t stay there. But Sony would likely face some tough negotiations with Microsoft when that deal window came up in order to continue having access, tougher than when Activision was an independent third party.

Obviously PlayStation is going to want to have Call of Duty if they can retain access to it, but on Microsoft’s end, their position may be to treat COD like Minecraft, a series so big that it won’t do much good other than upsetting the userbase if it’s torn off a platform where it’s existed for ages.

Past that, it creates a system where PlayStation is paying Microsoft directly as the publisher of the series, while Microsoft gets to retain the inherent advantage of getting to include Call of Duty in Xbox Game Pass, a massive boost for that ecosystem even if the game is purchasable for $60-70 on PlayStation going forward. They may believe this is the best option overall without needing actual, true Xbox exclusivity for Call of Duty.



Path 2: Xbox Ecosystem Exclusive Call Of Duty

The other option is…Microsoft is essentially being coy with regulators and does indeed have a long term plan to refuse Sony access to Call of Duty after all aforementioned current deals expire. So after those three years, Sony is not given the chance to have Call of Duty on PlayStation, similar to how Microsoft is not giving them Bethesda’s Starfield, and the biggest shooter series in the world becomes an Xbox ecosystem exclusive.

Microsoft would get a ton of flak for seemingly going back on their word, but I can see their “out” being something like “well, PlayStation can have Call of Duty, it just needs to let its players access Xbox Game Pass!” which sounds absurd, but not impossible to imagine that may be their logic. There’s also idea that you do not pay $70 billion for a game publisher and not take its biggest series exclusive, as what exactly were you paying all that money for, then? And with this deal 10x the size of the Bethesda deal, which is generating a bunch of Xbox exclusives, why should this be any different in the long term?

Unlike Sony’s deal with Bungie, where I’m guessing a condition of Bungie selling was that Destiny and its other future games could stay multiplatform, I doubt that Kotick and Activision cared at all what Microsoft did with its IP’s exclusivity, so long as they got paid. So no, this probably cannot be fully ruled out, even if I am leaning toward option 1 being more likely where Microsoft chooses the “Minecraft” path they’ve already done for a major purchase of an existing megafranchise. But we may not know for years, yet.

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