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Acti-Blizz’s Kotick Frames Sale as a West/East Battle, UK “Death Valley” if they Block it

Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick Acti-Blizz

We haven’t heard much from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick since revelations about his own misconduct became known amid wider reports of discrimination and harassment at the Call of Duty publisher. That said, as Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Acti-Blizz faces increasing scrutiny from regulators, Kotick re-emerged on CNBC’s Squawk Box to provide fresh justifications for the deal.

Kotick’s first tactic? To try to reframe Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard as a West vs. East battle, with the deal being necessary to combat the real threat – Japanese and Chinese companies like Sony, Nintendo, and Tencent.

“Whether it's the FTC, CMA, or EU, they don't know our industry. They're trying to come up to speed and understand the industry better. I don't think they fully appreciate that it's a free-to-play business. That the Japanese and Chinese companies dominate the industry. You look at Sony, you look at Nintendo, they have these huge libraries of intellectual property. [...] Nintendo has the very best characters that exist in video games. I think they are a little bit confused about where competition is today. The very best companies in the world today are companies like Tencent and ByteDance. These are companies that all have protected markets. We've struggled to enter the Japanese market, we can't enter the Chinese market without a joint-venture partner, and so the competition isn't actually European companies, American companies, it's really those companies in Japan and China.”

It’s a bit rich to try and portray Activision Blizzard (the second-biggest independent publisher in the world) and Microsoft (the second-biggest company in the world period) as underdogs. The argument that Sony and Nintendo operate within a protected market also doesn’t hold much water, as they do most of their business internationally and Western publishers have full access to Japan. Tencent does operate within a protected market, but the company isn’t really a major player outside of China. Hopefully, regulators are smart enough not to have their decision hinge on shallow xenophobic appeals.

With that ploy out of the way, Kotick resorted to threats. With reports circulating that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority may block the Acti-Blizz deal, Kotick warned that doing so would transform the country from Europe’s Silicon Valley to “Death Valley.”

“If you're the UK, and you have an incredibly educated workforce, you have a lot of technical talent, places like Cambridge where the best AI and machine learning is, I would think you'd want to embrace a transaction like this where you're going to see job creation and opportunity. And it isn't really at all about whether it's Sony or Microsoft's platform, it's really about the future of technology. They've said now for the last year, [UK Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak has said they'd like to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, and if deals like this can't get through, they're not going to be Silicon Valley, they'll be Death Valley.”

I’m not sure if that line’s going to impress regulators either! What do you think? Does Kotick actual make any good points, or are these the last desperate swipes of somebody who foresees the deal falling apart?

The post Acti-Blizz’s Kotick Frames Sale as a West/East Battle, UK “Death Valley” if they Block it by Nathan Birch appeared first on Wccftech.

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