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Microsoft signs binding Call of Duty deal with Nintendo ahead of EU Actvision hearing

Duty will be available to Nintendo players on the same day as Xbox with “full feature and content parity” under a 10-year agreement between the two platforms, This has been announced by Microsoft’s Brad Smith. The deal was announced in early December, but Smith is offering more details today ahead of a hearing in which Microsoft will make its case with EU regulators to close the $69 billion acquisition of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard to continue, Reuters reports.

As my colleague Tom Warren wrote back in December, the Nintendo deal is almost certainly part of Microsoft’s attempt to pressure Sony into accepting a similar offer and allay regulatory concerns over competition. to take. The PlayStation maker has emerged as one of the main opponents of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition, saying it threatens to reduce competition by selling key franchises such as Duty to Xbox consoles and Microsoft services such as Game Pass.

Like DutySmith’s tweet refers to “Xbox games” in general, though it doesn’t provide details on which franchises these might come from.

News of the deal comes as Microsoft prepares to make its case before EU regulators today. The closed hearing is expected to be attended by representatives from Microsoft, including Brad Smith and Xbox head Phil Spencer, as well as Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and Sony’s Jim Ryan. Representatives from Google, Nvidia, Valve, Electronic Arts, the European Games Developer Federation and more than six different national competition watchdogs are also expected to participate. per Reuters.

The EU reportedly issued a formal antitrust warning to Microsoft about the deal earlier this month, presumably expressing concerns about the deal’s impact on fair competition in the video game market. In response, Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said the company is “committed to solutions and finding a path for this deal” and that it is “listening closely to the [European Commission’s] concerns and are confident that we can address them.”

Outside the European Union, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has also faced opposition from UK and US regulators. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a legal challenge in early December 2022 to block the acquisition, arguing that it would “allow Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its burgeoning subscription content and cloud gaming business.” Meanwhile, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said the deal “could result in higher prices, fewer choices or less innovation for UK gamers,” in preliminary filings announced earlier this month.

Today’s statement from Microsoft says the deal is coming off the ground Duty games to “Nintendo players”, without mentioning specific hardware such as the Nintendo Switch. As it approaches its sixth year on the market, the Switch portable console is increasingly showing its age and relatively low processing power compared to the latest consoles from Sony and Microsoft, as well as modern gaming PCs, on which gamers typically play the latest Duty releases. The last Duty game to release on a Nintendo console was in 2013 Call of Duty Ghosts on the Wii U.

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