Hearings for Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard begin in the United States. With them, we discover first revelations behind the scenes of manufacturers Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation.
The case of the takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft continues to offer twists. The lawsuit between the FTC and Microsoft begins in the United States with the first hearings. As a reminder, the two actors are fighting in federal court on the question of an injunction to prohibit or not the closing of the takeover by Microsoft until the other lawsuit between the FTC and Microsoft, in administrative court, has not received his verdict. If Microsoft wins, the firm will be able to absorb Activision without delay. Conversely, if the FTC wins its injunction, Microsoft will most likely abandon its project.
The lawyers of each party therefore began their work before the judge by revealing in particular a list of witnesses and evidence. Among the latter, there is a mailing list between Microsoft executives whose content could turn out to be very juicy.
The first revelations
Thus, we can read in the list of emails that one concerns the possibility of authorizing ” several stores on Xbox in a 2020 email written by Microsoft Gaming boss Phil Spencer. The firm has obviously discussed opening up its console to competitors without going through with the project so far.
We can also find two emails sent by Phil Spencer to Jim Ryan, the boss of PlayStation, in May and August 2022, a few months after the announcement of the takeover. These emails are titled “ content discussions and likely relate to negotiations to secure PlayStation’s access to Activision licenses. Sony has always refused to sign such an agreement.
But the most interesting is undoubtedly this series of emails between Jerret West and Matt Booty, respectively head of marketing Xbox and head of internal studios Xbox Game Studios. The title is quite self-explanatory: XGS titles to PlayStation and Switch “. XGS titles are Xbox Game Studios titles, that is to say, developed by Microsoft’s internal studios.
It’s dated January 2023 and December 2022, and obviously Microsoft is seriously considering the idea of offering its catalog of games on the two competing consoles. Just like with GeForce Now, the firm would be ready to market its flagship licenses like Forza, Gears, Halo or Sea of Thieves on other platforms to obtain the right to swallow the biggest video game publisher in the world.
The list of witnesses
These exchanges between the FTC and Microsoft around their trial also made it possible to unveil the list of witnesses expected for the hearings. The least we can say is that the judge will see leading officials pass by. Are thus listed: the boss of Microsoft Satya Nadella, the boss of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer, the boss of Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick but also other Microsoft officials like Sarah Bond, Amy Hood, Tim Stuart or Lori Wright.
On the Sony side, only Jim Ryan, the boss of PlayStation, will testify in these hearings and only through a video chat. Microsoft did not miss this opportunity to highlight that ” unlike Sony, our key executives will testify in person to answer any questions regarding our business strategy “. Nvidia and Nintendo executives are also expected to testify in the case.
The hearings in this trial will open from this Wednesday, June 21 and until Thursday, June 29.