Xbox says its Activision deal is fair because PlayStation has almost 5x more exclusive games

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(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

With the US Federal Trade Commission now pursuing legal action to block Microsoft's $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, the house of Xbox is now making the case that the biggest acquisition in the game industry's history would actually "promote competition" on the grounds that PlayStation already has way more exclusive games and a larger share of the console market. 

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft president Brad Smith reportedly made comments at a shareholder meeting today claiming that the company promised the FTC a legally binding agreement that would guarantee Call of Duty stays on rival platforms including PlayStation. Bloomberg previously reported that Microsoft has finally acknowledged the elephant in the room and included PlayStation Plus as part of its Call of Duty offer, cementing concessions Microsoft has made to help the deal gain approval. 

The FTC has argued that this deal would give Microsoft control over a leading studio and enable it to "harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets," most notably subscription- and cloud-based gaming. Microsoft apparently made this latest offer before the FTC voted to sue over the deal, so it clearly didn't appease the commission. 

Smith describes the FTC's case as a world where Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox represent the entire market. "Sony has 70% of that market, and we have 30%," he says. "So the first thing a judge is going to have to decide is whether the FTC lawsuit is a case that will promote competition or is it really instead [a] case that will protect the largest competitor from competition."

More to the point, Smith claims PlayStation commands 286 exclusive games while Xbox only holds 59, though it's unclear how exactly these numbers were tabulated. Nevertheless, Smith says a judge will "have to decide whether going from 59 to 60 is such a danger to competition that he should stop this [acquisition] from moving forward." It's even more unclear how Microsoft acquiring all of Activision Blizzard would gain Xbox just one exclusive game, as Smith seems to imply, let alone how that would be the sole consequence of the deal. 

Xbox boss Phil Spencer made similar comments just days ago, arguing that Sony only objects to the Activision buyout because it wants to "protect its dominance." According to Spencer, who zeroed in on the Call of Duty debate that's become so central to the deal, it's a case of "the largest console maker in the world raising an objection about the one franchise that we've said will continue to ship on the platform." 

Microsoft and Sony both continue to say basically anything that helps their position with this deal. Microsoft is trying to make itself look as insignificant as possible while simultaneously drumming up Sony's dominance and claiming Activision Blizzard doesn't actually make must-have games – which is, of course, very funny. 

Meanwhile, Sony has argued for months that the deal would have "major negative implications for gamers," and has now reached the point of claiming that Microsoft's "true strategy" is to make PlayStation "like Nintendo" as a "less close and less effective competitor" by denying the platform key games and keeping them for itself. You'd better believe this corporate drama is only to get sweeter as the FTC lawsuit moves forward. 

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick says he's confident "this deal will close" despite the FTC's lawsuit

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.