The takeover of Activision by Microsoft is now in the sights of market watchdogs. This leads to entertaining blossoms: while Microsoft wants to declare the Xbox consoles insignificant, competitor Sony is blaspheming about the Battlefield series. Both want to influence the ongoing competition proceedings.
The core issue is the importance of Call of Duty and the question of whether the takeover of this brand will give Microsoft massive advantages. Because the company would then have the choice of not offering the shooters on the PlayStation in a few years or with a delay – or to give the Xbox versions additional features and thus make their own console more attractive.
Call of Duty has become synonymous with the FPS category and is the benchmark against which all other FPS games are measured. Through its 20-year existence, no game has managed to rival Call of Duty's brand loyalty and network.
Sony argues that Call of Duty's dominance is too big. The game is so well established that competitors, “regardless of how well equipped they are,” cannot keep up. “Other publishers do not have the resources or the expertise to achieve the same success,” argues the group (PDF, p.6) according to documents from the British competition watchdog. The efforts of other developers are used as evidence. EA has been trying to compete with Call of Duty for years, but can't keep up: 88 million Battlefields have been sold compared to 400 million copies of Call of Duty, writes Sony, although EA knows how to establish successful games on the market.
Microsoft thinks Call of Duty is bad
On the other side of the takeover, on the other hand, you downplay yourself. It's all about the mobile market, Microsoft argues, after all, Call of Duty on consoles is of little importance. According to the statement, the series is not consistently at the top of voting categories such as “Game of the Year” in polls and is not the subject of heated discussions on social media platforms.
Basically, Microsoft is saying that hardly anyone is interested in Call of Duty and it's not particularly great – and a Call of Duty isn't unique on the market or in terms of features anyway, the group claims to prove that the purchase of Activision does not bring any massive advantages in the market. In fact, Call of Duty ratings are rarely great, but sales numbers are.
Sony has the better games
In order to prove that Activision does not make the Xbox the dominant brand, Microsoft argues in a second way by certifying itself as a persistent failure. “Sony's PlayStation has been the largest console platform for over 20 years,” which “has more than twice the market share of Xbox,” writes Microsoft (PDF, p.1) in response to the competitor's argument. Since entering the gaming market, “Xbox has been #3 behind Sony and Nintendo in every single generation of consoles” and “far from having any real market position”.
In addition, Sony is twice the size of Microsoft's publisher and owns great brands, Microsoft notes. “Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are of better quality,” reads page 62, which backs up this claim with reference to sales figures, prices and average ratings. Not even the Game Pass is a ray of hope on the horizon, because at best it has a 5 percent market share and cannot compete with the market leader PlayStation Plus in terms of sales or number of customers. Therefore, Microsoft concludes, neither the acquisition of Activision nor the eventual disappearance of Call of Duty from PlayStation consoles poses a problem.
So you can read in black and white that the Xbox story is basically one of permanent failure and that Sony simply makes better products. Such statements seem grotesque and entertaining, but must be seen against the background of a possible thwarting of the Activision purchase by antitrust authorities. They are only a strategic means for the purpose of preventing or enforcing this acquisition.