Sony claims to know Microsoft's true motivations behind the Activision merger, and delivers a bizarre statement to UK regulators.
Sony is fighting the $68.7 billion Microsoft-Activision merger tooth and nail. The industry market leader has issued a 29-page response to the UK's Competition for Markets Authority that outlines Sony's major issues with the merger. Sony's arguments mostly align with what the CMA has already said, but some rather strange comments have sifted through.
One of the most audacious claims is that Microsoft apparently wants to make Sony more like Nintendo. This seems rather preposterous. Sony argues that by acquiring (and potentially withholding) key Activision franchises like Call of Duty that the PlayStation-maker would be implicitly downgraded and no longer be such a close competitor to the Xbox business. This plan, Sony says, is Microsoft's true strategy with the deal.
The weight of Activision games is indeed heavy for Sony, who has made billions from Call of Duty alone, and Sony continues to argue that following the merger, Xbox will become a one-stop shop for the lucrative shooter game genre. However, likening the loss of Activision games to something that would reduce PlayStation at or on par with Nintendo is an extremely tough sell, especially since Sony made over $9 billion more in 2021 than Nintendo did.
Here's what Sony says in Page 7 of the response letter:
"Microsoft claims that Nintendo's differentiated model demonstrates that PlayStation does not need Call of Duty to compete effectively. But this reveals Microsoft's true strategy. Microsoft wants PlayStation to become like Nintendo, so that it would be a less close and lese effective competitor to Xbox."
The reality is that Microsoft has a vested interest in Sony's success. The Xbox business is set up to be successful even when put up against gaming's largest platform holder, but following the Activision merger, Microsoft will very much depend on Sony.
After all, Microsoft will still sell its games on Sony's platform. The two competitors will have to create a symbiotic bond and try to iron out a deal that mutually benefits one another. The alternative, which would keep Activision games locked to just Xbox and PC and miss out on tens of millions of game sales ever year, is not viable and would significantly affect both Xbox and PlayStation. Xbox simply is not big enough to handle full-on exclusivity.
This isn't to say that Microsoft or Sony are discounting Nintendo, only that Nintendo operates on somewhat of a different level with its emphasis on family-oriented first-party games, whereas both Xbox and PlayStation offer grisly, violent, and action-packed titles.
While Nintendo is technically in third place compared to Microsoft and Sony, it's not in third place by much.
It's also worth noting that Microsoft says that Nintendo is the world's largest video games publisher in its own CMA response. Why would Microsoft want to make Sony the world's largest games publisher if it wants to downgrade or competitively harm Sony?