Valve co-founder and CEO Gabe Newell has offered Microsoft a timely show of support as the Xbox maker bids to convince anti-trust regulators to approve its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The European Commission and the UK’s CMA recently launched in-depth probes into the $68.7 billion deal, while Microsoft executives are set to meet US FTC chair Lina Khan and other commissioners on Wednesday in order to make their case for why the transaction shouldn’t be blocked over competition concerns.
The future of the Call of Duty series as a multiplatform product is one of the key areas being examined by anti-trust regulators scrutinising the planned acquisition.
In a bid to address some concerns, earlier this week Microsoft said it had offered Sony a 10-year, legally enforceable contract to make each new Call of Duty game available on PlayStation the same day it comes to Xbox.
The latest Call of Duty game, Modern Warfare 2, is the first new series entry to be released on Steam since 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII.
Responding to Microsoft’s Steam offer, Valve confirmed it had received a draft agreement for a “long-term” Call of Duty deal, but that it was unnecessary for several reasons.
“Microsoft has been on Steam for a long time and we take it as a signal that they are happy with gamers reception to that and the work we are doing. Our job is to keep building valuable features for not only Microsoft but all Steam customers and partners.
“Microsoft offered and even sent us a draft agreement for a long-term Call of Duty commitment but it wasn’t necessary for us because a) we’re not believers in requiring any partner to have an agreement that locks them to shipping games on Steam into the distant future b) Phil and the games team at Microsoft have always followed through on what they told us they would do so we trust their intentions and c) we think Microsoft has all the motivation they need to be on the platforms and devices where Call of Duty customers want to be.”
In a new Bloomberg interview, Xbox boss Phil Spencer claimed the Activision deal has received “a lot of support from the industry” barring PlayStation, which he said was showing little interest in negotiating with Microsoft over Call of Duty.
“There’s been one game industry participant that’s really been raising all the objections, and that’s Sony, and they’ve been fairly public about the things that don’t meet their expectations,” he 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.”