Microsoft on Sunday said it has reached an agreement with competitor Sony concerning Activision Blizzards hit video game franchise "Call of Duty." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
July 17 (UPI) -- As federal regulators contemplate whether to sign off on Microsoft's proposed acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard, the U.S. software behemoth said it has entered into an agreement with Sony to keep the wildly popular Call of Duty video game franchise on PlayStation consoles.
Phil Spenser, the head of Microsoft's Xbox video game console, announced Sunday that a binding agreement with Sony concerning Activision's Call of Duty had been reached, though no specifics were given.
"We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games," Spencer tweeted.
Microsoft announced its intentions to buy the Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch developer in January 2022 for some $69 billion.
But the deal has been confronted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which argues against it on antitrust grounds, saying it would afford Microsoft exclusive access to Activision titles to the detriment of not only competitors Sony and Nintendo but consumers.
If the merger is consummated, it will be the largest not only in video game history but in Microsoft's history, which has seen more than 10 other third-game party studios and their titles be acquired by the behemoth U.S. software company in recent years.
Sony, which directly competes with Microsoft, has protested the merger, and the Sunday agreement is expected to aid the U.S. company's argument against the FTC, which had filed an administrative complaint against the acquisition in December and a lawsuit last month asking for a temporary injunction on the grounds the merger was imminent.
On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked that FTC attempt.
Britain's regulator the Competition and Markets Authority, which had originally blocked the merger, said Friday it needed more time to consider the acquisition, and the European Union gave it the green light in May.
"From Day One of this acquisition, we've been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers and consumers, brad Smith, vice chair and President of Microsoft, tweeted Sunday.
"Even after we cross the finish line for this deal's approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than every before."