Activision Deal Could be Decided Tomorrow
It’s been the best part of a year since Microsoft’s purchase of Activision was announced, and things have been heating up in the last 48 hours. The American regulator – the FTC – is meeting to vote on the deal tomorrow. If it’s approved, it could mean other regulators follow suit sooner rather than later.
And Microsoft have been working hard to make sure it is approved. In the last two days, there has been announcement after announcement. All have been designed to show the deal as a positive, and to help show Sony’s concerns about the deal to be self-interested. At least in the court of public opinion, these moves have largely worked.
Nintendo will get Call of Duty for the next ten years, and the blockbuster franchise will continue to appear on Steam too. This leaves Sony as the only member of the big four not in support of the deal, despite being offered the same ten-year remediation. They would rather the deal be blocked outright. Given the previous commitments though, their claim this is bad for gamers now looks paper thin. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said: “From where we sit, it’s clear they’re spending more time with the regulators than they are with us to try and get this deal done.”
The CWA union offered support for the Activision deal. That’s a big positive for regulators. Harassment issues at Activision were infamous. This deal will allow staff to unionise. In a way to hit that home, Zenimax worker announced they were unionising on Monday. It’s the first formal union at Microsoft, and the tech giant has remained neutral on it.
The Changing Tides of the Activision Deal
As if action wasn’t enough, Microsoft also released some well-timed opinion pieces and tweets concerning all of the above. Microsoft’s Brad Smith said Sony were about as excited “as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix”.
All of this has hammered home while the deal should go through. And it’ll be repeated today, when Smith and other Microsoft executives meet with the FTC ahead of a potential decision tomorrow. It comes in the wake of rumours that the FTC could sue, and that one judge was flipping to accept the deal. It’s interesting, and political, and drama-filled. The idea that the Activision deal could be ‘complete’ in America by the end of tomorrow is incredible.
Other regulators – specifically the EU – would be likely to follow suit in short measure. And the UK regulators are unlikely to hold out if every other regulator signs off. This truly could be the beginning of the end.
It’s been a long 12 months, with some uncertainty and plenty of console warring. But the future is here. There are questions about what exactly that future might entail. At the very least, it shows a Microsoft who is willing to fight (and spend) for its place in the industry.
And whatever you might think, that can only ever be a good thing.