Japan’s Fair Trade Commission finds no risk to market competition from Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition
Another blow to Sony’s CoD Playstation theory of harm.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission has concluded its examination of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition. The body decided that there was no risk of lessened market competition due to the deal and informed Activision Blizzard that no cease and desist order will be issued.
Related: UK’s CMA deals major blow to Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal
Japan’s Fair Trade Commission outlines in its statement that “it would not substantially restrain competition in a certain field of trade, the company group was notified to the effect that a cease and desist order would not be issued, and the examination was completed.” This finding means that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft isn’t seen as an act that would limit market competition in Japan. Therefore, the deal has been approved.
Microsoft’s acquisition of publisher Activision Blizzard has been scrutinized by governing bodies worldwide ever since it was announced. Microsoft has made a similar acquisition of publishers and developers in the past, for example, ZeniMax Media, the company that owns video game publisher Bethesda. Still, the size and influence of Activision Blizzard raised a few eyebrows among those who thought this deal could limit competition across various markets. If found to be true, the deal would be rejected by governing bodies and couldn’t go ahead.
Despite outcry from Sony, which believes this deal would cause harm to the PlayStation brand, ultimately limiting the Call of Duty franchise to Xbox and PC platforms, eight governing bodies have approved the deal. While Sony’s concern is legitimate, the role of governing bodies worldwide is to assess deals like this and decide if a single company is becoming too large, gaining a monopoly on the market and limiting competition. If a company was limiting the market, this would be perceived as bad for consumers, and Fair Trade Commission would therefore oppose the deal.
Ultimately, Sony is worried about Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard and pulling a lucrative franchise from its platform. It’s hard to say whether Microsoft intends to do this, but given the binding deal Microsoft recently signed to bring the franchise to Nintendo Switch, it’s hard to see it being removed from another platform entirely.