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HomeMarketMicrosoft Offers to Bring Activision’s ‘Call of Duty’ to Nintendo Switch

Microsoft Offers to Bring Activision’s ‘Call of Duty’ to Nintendo Switch

Sony has been the most vocal opponent of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

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Troy Harvey/Bloomberg

Microsoft,
which is trying to buy videogame developer
Activision Blizzard,
has pledged to give rival
Nintendo
access to the blockbuster franchise Call of Duty for a decade as it tries to assuage regulatory concerns over its deal.
The move could address some of the arguments made by
Sony,
which has asked regulators to block the deal on competition grounds.

In practical terms,
Microsoft’s
(ticker: MSFT) offer to
Nintendo
(7974. JAPAN) doesn’t mean that much. The last major Call of Duty game to appear on a
Nintendo
console was in 2013 and the Japanese company has largely avoided violent shooter games on its Switch device, minimizing the number of consumers likely to gain from the offer. 

However, the possibility of a similar 10-year agreement for access to Call of Duty with
Sony
(SONY), as set out by
Microsoft
‘s vice chairman Brad Smith on Wednesday, is a new public front in the company’s efforts to placate antitrust regulators around the $75 billion deal to buy
Activision Blizzard
(ATVI). 

Sony
has been the most vocal opponent of the acquisition. It has said consumers could be harmed by Microsoft excluding Call of Duty from
Sony
‘s PlayStation console. Sony had previously said in submissions to U.K. regulators that Microsoft had only offered to make Activision’s games available on PlayStation until 2027.

Investors appeared to think on Wednesday that Microsoft’s statements might marginally tip the balance toward regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission, approving the
Activision Blizzard
deal. Shares in
Activision Blizzard
were up around 1% to close to $77 although they remain well short of the $95 takeout price.

Sony is likely to point toward longer term concerns about Microsoft using Activision Blizzard content to increase the attractiveness of its multigame subscription packages and eventually cloud-gaming services, while limiting access to Call of Duty and other franchises via competing services. 

The FTC’s approach to the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal is set to be a landmark under Chairwoman Lina Khan. The FTC is expected to take a tougher stance on such deals, involving ‘vertical mergers’, or combinations between companies that don’t compete directly. 

Last year guidelines brought in under former U.S. President Donald Trump were removed. Khan said they gave too much credit to the business efficiencies of such mergers without fully recognizing their potential harms. Microsoft executives are set to meet with Khan and other FTC officials on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo didn’t respond immediately to Barron’s requests for comment early on Wednesday.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@barrons.com

Credit: marketwatch.com

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