Leaked email claims Xbox wants to put PlayStation out of business
We always knew things would get ugly in the battle between Microsoft and Sony, but we never thought the console wars would result in one side trying to slit the other's throat. Now, a leaked email claiming Xbox is trying to put PlayStation in the ground could hinder the proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition.
Microsoft's potential purchase of Activision Blizzard has always grabbed headlines, and not just because of its record-breaking $68.7 billion price tag. We were warned that the deal could rumble on for years, and with countries like the UK starting to block it, the concerns are starting to mount.
Leaked emails claims Xbox is trying to kill PlayStation
As reported by Axios' Stephen Totilo, a group of gamers trying to block the deal have antitrust concerns backed up "uncontroverted evidence that Microsoft had the intention to put its main competition, the Sony PlayStation, out of the market."
This is backed up by a supposed email from Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty to Microsoft Chief Financial Officer for Xbox Tim Stuart). Although the contents are redacted, the sealed document is part of Exhibit K which the group's lawyers and Microsoft attorneys have been arguing about.
Microsoft claims that it should be kept sealed as it is part of an "internal exchange." Things get more complicated, as a Microsoft representative says the email predates the Activision deal and was sent by Booty in 2019. Still, they wouldn't confirm the contents of what was said.
On Twitter, Totilo maintains that he asked Microsoft for clarification a week ago and heard nothing back. He adds that he only heard from representatives when the story blew up, with Microsoft apparently reiterating the year was 2019 but refusing to divulge what Booty wrote.
Activision Blizzard deal faces further setbacks
If the email does come from 2019, it should mean the Activision Blizzard deal has no bearing on trying to put Sony out of business. Still, if these words are said or implied, the courts might see the acquisition as trying to eradicate the competition, therefore fulfilling the claim about putting PlayStation "out of the market."
Timing couldn't be worse for these revelations, as another stumbling block has hit Microsoft in the face. While the EU has approved the deal, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority voted against it, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) applied for an injunction, and a San Franciso federal court temporarily paused the deal.
Now, New Zealand's Commerce Commission has issued a preliminary report that highlights its own concerns with the acquisition. The regulator says its investigation is ongoing but is currently trying to determine whether Microsoft could impact cloud gaming because of "vertical effects."
If that wasn't enough, Sony's Jim Ryan apparently flew in to try and stop the deal himself. Well, wouldn't you if someone was accused of trying to put you out of business? We never said navigating the biggest deal in the history of gaming would be easy, but we doubt Phil Spencer thought it would be this hard.