Xbox's Phil Spencer Defends Activision Blizzard Deal After Key EU Hearing
Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that he doesn't want the console market to end up like the two-party smartphone market in a recent UK interview.
The ongoing saga of the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger continued to unfold this week, as Xbox boss Phil Spencer jetted over to Europe to face UK and EU regulators who have yet to pronounce judgment on the blockbuster deal. In an interview with The Times, Spencer said that he doesn't want the market for video game consoles to end up like smartphones, which only has two major manufacturers.
Spencer also said that Xbox will continue to exist regardless of whether or not the deal goes through, though it is an "important acquisition." Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are the current players in the console space. Regulators have noted that Nintendo's consoles compete less closely with Microsoft than Sony's, however.
In recent weeks, Spencer and Xbox have expressed frustration with some of the questions being asked by regulators, claiming in the interview that PlayStation controls 70% of console gaming's global market share. Spencer has also stated that Activision Blizzard's mobile division (the company owns King, one of the largest studios in the space) is one of the major reasons for the deal.
To date, however, regulatory bodies like the European Commission and the US's Federal Trade Commission have focused their questions on the Call of Duty series. Microsoft said that it offered Sony a 10-year contract to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation, as well as inking a deal with Nintendo to put the shooter series on Switch. Regulators are also seemingly concerned with Microsoft's dominance in the cloud gaming space, a fast-growing section of the industry. In the interview, Spencer said he's enjoyed helping "educate" regulators on the game industry.
"Most of the time in my career at Xbox as I've met with government regulators, there's been a real lack of knowledge about the games industry," Spencer said. "I’ve appreciated spending time with them and in certain cases helping to educate. I think for a lot of the regulators, this is the first time they've looked at this industry."
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