Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II releases this month

What Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s Record Launch Means For Microsoft’s Activision Takeover Bid

Call Of Duty (CoD) has long been a titan of the gaming industry – and the latest installment proves the point like none before it.

This week, less than a fortnight after its late October release, Modern Warfare II was confirmed to have surpassed $1 billion in sales worldwide – a record 10 days for the nearly 20-year-old franchise.

But while Modern Warfare II was always likely to be a big hit, the magnitude of its gains comes at an interesting time given Microsoft’s bid to buy the company behind it for a record $68.7 billion.

What is shaping up to be the biggest ever tech takeover has caught the attention of global takeover regulators, with UK and US watchdogs both put it under the microscope.

And in the week the historic success of Modern Warfare II was announced by publisher Activision, the EU joined in by launching its own investigation.

What are regulators investigating?

Regulators in the UK, US and EU are all looking at essentially the same thing, and that’s whether Microsoft, owner of Activision – and, by extension, games like CoD – would give it an unfair advantage on his rivals.

The European Commission said this week: “This is about ensuring that the gaming ecosystem remains dynamic for the benefit of users in an industry that is changing at a rapid pace. We need to ensure that opportunities remain for future and existing PC and console distributors. video games, as well as competing PC operating system vendors.”

The main opponent of the deal is Sony, which manufactures the PlayStation. He fears that CoD will become exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox platform and has made regulators aware of his case.

CoD is a big deal for Sony – for example, Modern Warfare II was the UK’s best-selling game in October (despite launching with just three days) and 57% of sales were on PlayStation.

How did Microsoft respond?

Microsoft has promised to keep CoD on PlayStation “for at least several years” beyond its current contract.

“Sony, as an industry leader, says they’re worried about CoD, but we said we’re committed to making the same game available the same day on Xbox and PlayStation,” he said. after the EU announcement.

But Sony seems skeptical in the long run – and the idea of ​​a console maker like Microsoft releasing games on other systems is rare. Its buyout of Bethesda for $7.5 billion will see the popular Elder Scrolls series moved away from PlayStation, becoming a big draw for its Xbox Game Pass Netflix-style subscription service.

Games industry analyst Michael Pachter, of Wedbush Securities, told Sky News that CoD is truly different – and the huge demand for Modern Warfare II proves it.

“The purchase price doesn’t make sense if Microsoft was planning to make CoD an Xbox exclusive,” he said.

“If this had been done, CoD’s annual sales would have dropped by 50 percent.”

Microsoft's Xbox Series X (black) and Series S (white) game consoles are displayed at an SK Telecom flagship store in Seoul on November 10, 2020. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON- JE/ AFP via Getty Images)
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and S consoles trail PlayStation 5 in sales

What happens next?

News of another media takeover being pulled from the rug this month has some wondering if the same could happen to Microsoft. Penguin Random House was looking to buy Simon & Schuster for $2.18billion (£1.9billion), but two years after it announced it was dropped by a US judge for competition reasons.

Mr Pachter doesn’t expect the same to happen to Microsoft, but an olive branch – in the form of a legally binding agreement not to let CoD go the way of Elder Scrolls – might be needed. .

“Microsoft anticipated this would form the basis of regulatory review and has pre-emptively committed to making Activision games available for other consoles once the merger is complete,” he told Sky News.

“This commitment is not legally binding, so it is prudent for regulators to insist that it become binding. Comments from regulators position them to claim victory when they obtain a legally binding commitment from Microsoft to continue to support PlayStation and other consoles.”

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