Microsoft attended a closed hearing to address the European Union’s concerns over the Activision Blizzard deal. Industry peers, such as Sony and other games and tech companies, were also present. Though media could not attend the court session, Microsoft held a press conference afterwards.
Microsoft president Brad Smith couldn’t discuss what was said at the closed hearing, according to live coverage by Eurogamer and GameIndustry.biz. Smith instead took the stage to signal Microsoft’s determination and optimism about working with regulators to push the deal forward. As for indications of what concessions Microsoft might make to convince regulatory bodies to let the Activision Blizzard deal through, dropping Call of Duty does not look like it’s on Microsoft’s table.
When asked about the possibility of divesting from Call of Duty, Smith commented, “We don’t think it’s feasible or realistic to think one game or one slice can be carved out from the rest.” Dropping the Activision unit or Call of Duty was proposed in the UK regulator’s provisional report as one of the potential actions Microsoft could take to get the deal approved.
Microsoft also signed 10-year Call of Duty deals with Nvidia’s GeForce and Nintendo, promising that Call of Duty will see same-day launches on GeForce Now and Nintendo’s platform as Xbox. Smith, of course, brought up the two deals and reiterated Microsoft’s talking point that the company doesn’t want to keep Call of Duty only on Xbox, and instead wants to keep and bring the game to other platforms.
Microsoft continues to face scrutiny over the Activision Deal from three major regulatory bodies in the US, UK, and EU. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission sued Microsoft and the case is pending. UK’s Competition & Markets Authority released a provisional report that included concerns that Microsoft will need to address.