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Microsoft offered Sony’s ‘Call of Duty’ subscription option ahead of FTC lawsuit, report says

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Before the United States Federal Trade Commission was sued for blocking $68.7 billion purchase by Microsoft from Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has reportedly offered rival Sony the right to sell a military shooter as part of its PlayStation Plus service, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The offer would help Microsoft avoid scrutiny by regulators such as the FTC, which oppose the deal.

Sony and Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the offer.

In its lawsuit against Microsoft, the FTC argued that the software giant would “harm competition” among game console makers, including Sony and Nintendo.

The FTC said in its complaint that Microsoft used previous acquisitions, including ZeniMax Media, to create several high-profile upcoming titles like the starfield space exploration game and the vampire redfall shooter exclusive to devices powered by its software.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Competition Bureau, said in a statement. “Today, we seek to prevent Microsoft from taking control of a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in several dynamic and fast-growing game markets.”

Company executives have spent the past two months give assurances to the public and miscellaneous government regulators around the world that Microsoft would not abuse its position as one of the largest video game publishers and maker of the Xbox game console.

“We have been committed from day one to resolving competition issues, including submitting concession proposals to the FTC earlier this week,” Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith said in a statement after the news broke. the FTC. “While we believed in giving peace a chance, we have complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court.”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick released a statement on Thursday saying, “I want to build my confidence in getting this deal done.”

The FTC’s decision against Microsoft marks one of the largest efforts by the US government to tackle the tech industry, which has seen companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Meta become some of the most beloved companies on the planet. Amid all this growth, competitors and regulators have wondered if the tech industry has too much power and if the companies are acting as a monopoly.

Sony and its PlayStation console division have raised concerns about the deal with regulators in the United States and abroad, saying Microsoft’s assurances of keeping hit titles like Call of Duty available for the PlayStation are not enough.

Microsoft has faced stiff resistance from European Union regulators over the deal. In October, the European Commission requested other game developers for opinions on the acquisition. The commission opened a thorough investigation in the deal in November, and Microsoft would be willing to make concessions to appease the regulator.

While the FTC’s action doesn’t mean Microsoft’s deal is dead, such a move by a federal regulator may cause it to fail. In 2011, the Ministry of Justice filed a complaint against AT&T when it attempted to merge with T-Mobile in a deal worth $39 billion. AT&T dropped the deal later that year.

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CNET

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