Microsoft tells UK it will license ‘Call of Duty’ to Sony for 10 years


LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) – Microsoft (MSFT.O) has announced that it will license Activision Blizzard’s (ATVI.O) “Call of Duty” (CoD) license to Sony for 10 years to address concerns raised by Britain over its $69 billion takeover of the games maker, according to a document released by the regulator.

Last month, Microsoft struck a similar deal with Nvidia Corp’s gaming platform NVDA.O, on the condition that it get the go-ahead for the hotly contested acquisition.

Microsoft chairman Brad Smith had said he hoped rival Sony – which has strongly opposed the takeover – would consider striking a similar deal.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in February the deal could weaken the rivalry between Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation, and stifle competition in cloud gaming.

He suggested structural solutions might be needed to ease his concerns, including divesting the business associated with “Call of Duty.”

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Sony, in its response to the CMA’s findings, said the set of solutions it would put forward protected all CoD players in Britain and offered substantial benefits to consumers and developers.

“Microsoft offers a set of licensing solutions that (i) ensure parity between the PlayStation and Xbox platforms with respect to CoD and (ii) ensure wide availability of CoD and other Activision titles on game services in the cloud,” Microsoft said in the published document. Wednesday.

She added that she believes the criteria for the AMC to consider behavioral remedies, such as those proposed, have been met.

Sony, in its own submission to the CMA, rejected Microsoft’s proposals, saying the only way to preserve competition in consoles and cloud gaming was to block the deal or subject it to a structural remedy, such as force Microsoft to sell CoD.

The biggest gaming deal ever, announced in January last year, is the subject of intense scrutiny in the United States and Europe.

Microsoft is expected to gain EU antitrust approval with its offer of licensing deals to rivals, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month, helping it clear a major hurdle.

The CMA will vote on the deal on April 22.

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Yadarisa Shabong; Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Mark Porter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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