Phil Spencer claims scrutiny of Xbox’s Activision deal is ‘fair and warranted’

Microsoft‘s head of gaming has commented on the ongoing investigations into the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzardin which he states that he believes heavy regulatory oversight is “reasonable” and “legitimate.”

Regulators around the world are currently holding a magnifying glass over the proposed deal, with the In particular, the UK CMA expanded its investigation and expressed concerns that it can harm Play station and other game subscription services – something that Microsoft has rejected.

The CMA has officially expanded its investigation to a second phasewhile the European competition watchdog has set its own tentative deadline for November 8 to close the deal or to opt for a second phase. The US FTC is expected to rule later in November.

Speaking during the Wall Street Journal Tech Live event this week, Xbox head Phil Spencer said he believed research around such a significant deal was warranted and revealed that he had spoken regularly with regulators around the world.

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“It may be surprising to people, but I’m no expert at making $70 billion deals,” he said said. “But I do know that we are very focused on getting approval in the major jurisdictions, and I spend a lot of time in Brussels, London and the FTC here in the US.

“I would say the discussions have been very honest and fair. It is a great asset, there is no doubt about it. Microsoft is a big tech company in its role in the tech industry, and I think the discussion about an acquisition of this magnitude is justified, and I appreciate the time I’m spending on it.”

He added: “We are really focused on getting the deal approved in the markets – I am confident in that. I was just in London last week, remain in talks with all regulators and remain confident that we will approve the deal.”

Much of the discussion — from regulators and the game industry — surrounding the Activision Blizzard deal has centered on Call of Duty.

Despite repeated assurances from Xbox that the Call of Duty series, which is regularly the best-selling release of the year in the US, will remain on PlayStation, Sony has been embroiled in an increasingly public battle of words over the proposed deal, telling the press that Microsoft’s offer regarding the future of CoD was “inadequate on many levels”.

The UK CMA expressed similar concerns that the deal could harm PlayStation and other game subscription services, should Microsoft make Call of Duty exclusive to its platform.

In the Wall Street Journal discussion, Spencer reiterated Microsoft’s stance that it will continue to release CoD on PlayStation platforms for the foreseeable future. The exec claimed that for its gaming business, the company was more interested in what the addition of Activision Blizzard could do for its mobile growth.

“Our plan is that Call of Duty would be available specifically on PlayStation, and that’s what you’re asking about, but when I think about our plans, I’d love to see it on Switch and playable on many different screens,” he said.

“But if we go back to why this deal is important to us, if you take the amount we spend and look at the opportunities in gaming, this opportunity is really about mobile.

“Most of the dialogue out there has been around consoles and how Xbox and PlayStation consoles compete with each other. But if we think of about three billion people who play video games, there are only about 200 million households that play on a console. The vast majority of people who play do so on the device they already have in their pocket, namely their phone.”

Spencer claimed that Microsoft found Call of Duty mobile “more interesting” than what the proposed deal would mean on the console between Xbox and PlayStation.

“What really interested us in Activision Blizzard King was the work the teams there had done to build such large mobile followings,” he said.

“This franchise will continue to be native to PlayStation – our plan is not to lure someone and switch where to play in the cloud, or that we’re going to get the game in two to three years. Our intention is that we continue to release Call of Duty on PlayStation as long as it makes sense… technology is always in some form of transition.”