Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard continues to experience twists and turns. Having vehemently fought the acquisition, Sony would now be open to negotiation. Behind this change of position, a secret flight to Seattle.
Legal battles, political battles, the international scene and even secret flights and last-minute negotiations: Microsoft’s record-breaking acquisition of Activision Blizzard sometimes seems like a real spy movie.
Last Chance Negotiation?
Joost van Dreunen, a university professor of commerce in the United States, was able to obtain exclusive information on one of the latest twists in the case. A Sony team reportedly took one of the company’s private jets to fly to Seattle, where Microsoft and Xbox are headquartered. This is the first such flight in 18 months and has since been confirmed for the private plane tracking apps that have been talked about so much in recent months.
According to Joost van Dreunen, the challenge of this negotiation would be for Sony to obtain access to the Call of Duty license.” in perpetuity », that is, without a time limit. The firm previously refused to sign a contract with Microsoft promising it access to the famous franchise for 5 years and then 10 years. A contract signed by Nintendo and that Valve did not consider necessary.
For Microsoft, the signing of such an agreement with its number one competitor in the game console market could greatly facilitate the ongoing negotiations with the European Union and especially with the United Kingdom. The latter suggested to Microsoft the complete separation of the Call of Duty activity from the acquisition project, but was open to this type of agreement signed with competitors. A very rare opening for the British authority and therefore an opportunity for Microsoft.
A great challenge for PlayStation
For Sony, the challenge is ensuring good access to the franchise, whether or not the acquisition project is successful. In fact, in the current state and without a signed deal between Microsoft and Sony, the PlayStation maker could actually lose access to Call of Duty on its platform when it was given the chance to secure its access for 10 years. As Joost van Dreunen points out, if Microsoft follows the CMA’s recommendation and ends up separating the Call of Duty business from the rest of Activision-Blizzard, the market would end up with a new independent Call of Duty company. Without a doubt, this new company would be interested in making new exclusivity deals, at least in additional content (DLC) for future Call of Duty games. And in these kinds of auctions, Sony would be ill-armed against a Microsoft that is still very determined.
Sony would also probably like to avoid getting too involved in the lawsuit between the FTC and Microsoft. The two video game giants have been battling for several weeks to determine which confidential documents Sony, and perhaps juicy ones for Xbox, will have to reveal at trial. Becoming Microsoft’s ally on the docket would certainly help defuse this battle.
Activision is still very confident
On the sidelines of the UK’s announcement of its fears over the proposed acquisition, Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick has sent an internal note their teams showing great confidence. The man accused of threatening to kill a subordinate and covering up cases of harassment in the company explains in this memorandum that preparations for the integration of Teams into Microsoft will continue.
As we prepare for the shutdown, you will begin to receive notifications or requests for information from your colleagues on the integration planning team. This is all part of the normal onboarding process to prepare for business continuity the first day after closing the deal.
One thing is certain, this memo and the Microsoft negotiations show that the two companies are not ready to abandon their merger project. The file should evolve a lot in the next few days.
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