March 23: Latest Microsoft-Activision megadeal news updates

March 23, 2023

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Microsoft is still awaiting the approvals of different competition watchdogs for its $69 billion Activision merger. Here are some of the latest developments of the proposed acquisition:

EU to market test Microsoft remedies

A Resetera used named Idas, who also previously shared other Activision merger-related MLex reports on the platform, said Microsoft has finally entered the “market test for remedies” stage with European Commission. According to the post, this process will show EC consulting other third-party companies (such as Sony) about Microsoft’s submitted cloud gaming remedies. In general, the test aims to gather important insights into whether the solutions are doable and adequate or have flaws.

“The replies to the market test form part of the evidence on the basis of which the EC will assess whether the remedies are adequate. In theory, assessing the replies to the market test is not simply a matter of counting favourable or unfavourable views (like a popularity vote). So, numbers alone shouldn’t be decisive,” the post reads. “The EC will review all individual responses and will assess the market test according to the totality of the replies. In assessing the replies, the EC will take into account elements such as the consistency and relevance of the reply, the expertise of the respondent, how well the reply is substantiated or if the replies could be guided by self-interest. The EC knows that competitors, for example, may have a hidden agenda. In those cases, the weight given to their replies will depend on how well their reply is substantiated and whether it is echoed by other respondents.”

According to Idas, CMA might perform the test “sooner or later,” but it would employ a different approach for the test.

Speculations: Arkane originally developed a PlayStation version of Redfall

In an interview with IGN France, Arkane creative director Harvey Smith revealed that Microsoft’s acquisition of Zenimax “was a change with capital C” and that the team was told “‘No PlayStation 5, we’re focusing on Xbox, PC and Game Pass.’” This led to speculations that the Redmond company scrapped the original plan for a PlayStation version of Redfall.

Microsoft wins versus gamers’ lawsuit over Activision merger

Aside from FTC, another private consumer antitrust lawsuit by a group of gamers tried to hinder the Activision merger. However, according to Reuters, the suit’s allegation was ruled insufficient by a federal judge in San Francisco. Despite this initial defeat, the plaintiffs were given 20 days to refine their legal challenge. Joseph Saveri, the lawyer also involved in the Copilot class-action lawsuit, told Reuters of plans to submit an amended lawsuit “with additional factual detail” to “address all of the ways in which the judge indicated we need to allege more.”

Microsoft’s new remedies prove it won’t sabotage the PlayStation version of COD

Earlier this month, Sony’s allegation of the possibility of Microsoft injecting bugs into Call of Duty surfaced. The concern, which was submitted to UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, was addressed by Microsoft through a new remedy proposal. In the submission, Microsoft shares its willingness to create a COD version optimized for PlayStation to ensure healthy game sales on the platform. 

“As Microsoft will be shipping CoD on PlayStation in compliance with its remedy commitments… Microsoft will have every incentive to develop games with optimised support for PS5 features, such as haptics, and future consoles in order to maximise sales on the platform.”

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