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Sony claims it's being harassed by Microsoft over Activision Blizzard merger

Microsoft wants to obtain information from Sony to help it fight the FTC, which is attempting to block its Activision Blizzard merger.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

February 10, 2023

2 Min Read
The PlayStation logo on a stylised background

Sony is claiming that Microsoft's attempts to subpoena PlayStation officials in relation to the FTC's lawsuit against its Activision Blizzard merger is "obvious harassment."

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently suing Microsoft in a bid to block the mammoth deal, prompting Microsoft to subpoena Sony in an effort to prove the acquisition won't threaten the existence of the PlayStation maker.

During its discussions with regulators, Microsoft has repeatedly stated that Sony's video game business has "dwarfed" its own for two decades, and that the Japanese company will be able to continue competing with Microsoft should the merger be approved.

In January, Microsoft subpoenaed Sony in the hopes of backing up that claim by placing the company's game business front and centre in court, but the process has been slow.

Sony has been granted multiple extensions since it was subpoenaed, and Microsoft seems to think the company is intentionally dragging its feet.

A "disproportionate" request?

As spotted by Axios, new court filings reveal Microsoft has now asked the court to deny Sony's fourth motion for an extension and essentially force the company to play ball.

Sony, however, claims it's unreasonable for Microsoft to subpoena individual staff members including its in-house antitrust lawyer, Greg McCurdy, noting that custodial searches of such employees are "rare."

It added that Microsoft's demand for performance reviews from Sony Interactive Entertainment leadership is "obvious harassment," adding that "even in employment cases courts require a specific showing of relevant before acquiring production of personnel files."

"Microsoft speculates these documents may 'candidly' discuss the performance of SIE’s gaming business, but SIE will be producing ordinary course documents that directly relate to its gaming business in the files of the Seven Custodians," reads the filing, which is partially redacted. "This huge burden for material of little if any relevance is clearly disproportionate."

Microsoft is currently battling on multiple fronts in a bid to purchase Activision Blizzard, and was recently dealt a blow in the UK when the country's regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), published its provisional findings into the deal.

After investigating the merger for months, the CMA provisionally found it "may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition," and suggested that, unless Microsoft can convince it otherwise, it might only approve the deal if Activision Blizzard divests key businesses or franchises before being acquired.

Microsoft said it will continue to work with the CMA and other regulators to address their concerns and find a solution.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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