Xbox Executive Phil Spencer Calls Scrutiny Of Activision Blizzard Deal "Fair And Warranted"

Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft Phil Spencer acknowledged that scrutiny of the upcoming deal with Activision Blizzard on the part of regulators around the world has been “fair and warranted.” This comes in the wake of news that not only the Federal Trade Commission in the United States but the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom has been investigating the proposed merger on the grounds of what amounts to an antitrust case. The regulators have both raised concerns that such a deal could affect PlayStation Plus along with any other subscription services. Microsoft has firmly dismissed these arguments.

The comments were made in the context of a recently held event known as Wall Street Journal Tech Live. Spencer spoke at the gathering, noting that Microsoft has frequently met with regulators about the matter. “It might be surprising to people, but I’m not an expert on doing $70 billion deals,” the executive remarked. “But I do know that we’re very focused on getting approval in the major jurisdictions and I’m spending a lot of time in Brussels, London, and with the FTC here in the US."

While the CMA has been expanding its investigation, the regulator has announced that a ruling will be handed down by November 8, 2022. As for the FTC, the organization has not put forward a timeframe, but a finding is expected to be announced at some point this November.

“I would say the discussions have been very fair and honest. It is a big acquisition. There’s no doubt,” Spencer mentioned. “Microsoft in its role in the tech industry is a large tech company and I do think the discussion around an acquisition of this size is warranted and I’ve appreciated the time to go spend.” Spencer added that “we’re really focused on getting the deal approved in the markets. I’m confident in that. I was just in London last week and continue to have discussions with all the regulatory boards and remain confident that we’ll get the deal approved.”

The discussion so far has largely centered on the popular Call of Duty franchise. Sony has raised concerns about the series being pulled from PlayStation, something which Microsoft has consistently denied. Spencer reiterated this position at the event, claiming that Microsoft is more interested in acquiring the mobile subsidiary of Activision Blizzard known as King. “Our plan is that Call of Duty specifically would be available on PlayStation,” the executive pointed out. “But when I think about our plans, I’d love to see it on Switch and playable on many different screens.”

“If we circle back to why this deal is important to us, when you’re spending the amount that we’re spending and looking at the opportunity in gaming, this opportunity is really about mobile,” Spencer explained. “Most of the dialogue that’s out there has been around consoles and how Xbox and PlayStation consoles compete with each other. But when we think about three billion people playing video games, there’s only about 200 million households that play on consoles. The vast majority of people who play do so on the device that’s already in their pocket which is their phone.” The executive went on to describe how “the thing that made us really interested in Activision Blizzard was the work that the teams there had done in building such large mobile followings.”

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