The day is finaly here when Activison Blizzard CEO is in court to testify before judges to allow the $69 billion deal with Microsoft to go through. The deal has already won approval from EU, but the going has been tough in the US. After Kotick, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella too is expected to testify and urge the judge to clear this deal.
Matt Stoller, Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project, tweeted what Kotick said at the start of the proceedings. In his deposition, Kotick said, “The whole strategy for Microsoft/Activision is to say that the merger is all about mobile. Everyone will be playing on phones soon, but Microsoft/Activision mobile share is very low.”
Indicating that money was not the sole driving force behind the deal, Kotick said, “Vitriol from the gamers” is a meaningful check on his firm’s profit-seeking behavior, Stoller tweeted.
Kotick said if “Call of Duty” was made exclusive to one platform would alienate some 100 million people who play the game each month.
“You would have a revolt if you were to remove the game from one platform,” said Kotick.
He said that removing “Call of Duty” from PlayStation, which is made by Sony Group, would be “very detrimental” to Activision’s business.
“If we were to remove Call of Duty from Playstation, it would cause serious reputational damage to the company,” Kotick said.
Notably, the biggest criticism of the Microsoft-Activision deal is that this might happen and CoD may become exclusive.
FTC says the transaction would give Microsoft, which makes the Xbox console, exclusive access to Activision games.
However, to this Kotick had replied, “There would be no reason to make it exclusive to a platform” and that the game woulld not be pulled from any platform.
To address antitrust concerns, Microsoft has offered to license the blockbuster “Call of Duty” to rivals.
On Activison’s top game Call of Duty not being on Nintendo Switch, Kotick said that was because he had “made a bad judgement”.
However, Kotick said that he would still not put the game on Nintendo Switch even without this merger.
This drew a shar response from the judge who said, “You said you made a mistake earlier in not bringing COD to the Switch. Why wouldn’t you do so this time?”
As things stand, U.S. antitrust enforcers are determined to stop Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard. The reason behind that is because they fear the creation of a monopolistic monster in the gaming industry. The FTC says the transaction would give Microsoft exclusive access to Activision games, leaving Nintendo and Sony Group out in the cold.
On its part, Sony is totally against the deal. “I believe this transaction is bad for competition,” quoted James Ryan, the head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, as saying.
The Federal Trade Commission has asked a judge to stop the transaction temporarily in order to allow the agency’s in-house judge to decide the case.
The case, which is being heard in federal court in San Francisco, will be decided by Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, Reuters reported.