In a startling revelation during the FTC v. Microsoft hearing, Sony’s PlayStation chief, Jim Ryan, finds himself at odds with his own company’s arguments against Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. An unsealed email exchange between Ryan and a former Sony CEO has unveiled Ryan’s belief that the deal is not driven by a desire to secure Xbox exclusives.
Contrary to Sony’s public statements, Ryan’s email expressed, “It is not an exclusivity play at all. They’re thinking bigger than that and they have the cash to make moves like this. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with [Phil] Spencer and Bobby [Kotick], and I’m pretty sure we will continue to see Call of Duty on PlayStation for years to come.”
Sony has consistently raised concerns about Microsoft potentially making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox or undermining the PlayStation versions of the popular game franchise. However, Ryan’s email paints a different picture, suggesting that Microsoft has broader plans for the acquisition beyond exclusivity agreements.
Furthermore, Ryan conveyed a sense of confidence in Sony’s future prospects, stating, “We have some good stuff cooking. I’m not complacent, I’d rather this didn’t happen, but we’ll be OK, we’ll be more than OK.” This implies that Sony has contingencies in place to withstand any potential impact resulting from the acquisition.
Initially, Microsoft proposed a three-year extension of Call of Duty availability on PlayStation after the current agreement between Activision and Sony expires. Ryan dismissed this offer as “inadequate on many levels.” Microsoft later presented a 10-year deal to Sony, but the company has not yet agreed to the terms.
The concerns surrounding Call of Duty exclusivity and competition were significant factors in the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation. However, the CMA ultimately dropped the console-related concerns and blocked the deal due to apprehensions about competition in the cloud market. Similarly, the European Commission disregarded worries about Call of Duty exclusivity or Xbox-exclusive games. Meanwhile, the FTC’s case primarily focuses on the potential harm of Microsoft transforming Activision games into Xbox exclusives across various platforms, including consoles, cloud gaming, and multi-game subscriptions.
Ryan’s email has introduced a twist in the ongoing proceedings, challenging the established narrative surrounding Microsoft’s intentions with the acquisition. As the FTC v. Microsoft hearing progresses, industry experts and observers eagerly anticipate further revelations and the ultimate outcome of this high-profile case.