On Thursday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said its inquiry into the $68.7 billion merger has officially been expanded to a second phase due to a number of antitrust concerns.
Notably, the CMA is worried about the impact the deal could have on PlayStation’s ability to compete, given that the deal would see Microsoft gain ownership of the Call of Duty series.
Microsoft has also responded to the CMA’s decision. A company spokesperson told VGC: “It makes zero business sense for Microsoft to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation given its market leading console position.”
Sony welcomed the news that the CMA is to expand its inquiry in a statement issued to GamesIndustry.biz.
“By giving Microsoft control of Activision games like Call of Duty, this deal would have major negative implications for gamers and the future of the gaming industry,” it claimed.
“We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality gaming experience, and we appreciate the CMA’s focus on protecting gamers.”
Earlier this month, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said Microsoft had committed to making Call of Duty available on PlayStation for “several more years” after Sony’s current marketing deal with Activision expires.
During this period, Call of Duty games released for PlayStation would have “feature and content parity”, Spencer said.
Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan, who is reportedly seeking access to future Call of Duty games on equal terms and in perpetuity, responded by calling Microsoft’s proposal for keeping the series on PlayStation consoles “inadequate on many levels”.
The current Call of Duty deal between Sony and Activision is believed to cover this year’s Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2, and a new game from Black Ops developer Treyarch, which may not arrive until 2024.