Japan Approves Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Deal as US Congress Push to Focus On Unfair Sony Practices
Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has faced stiff opposition from Sony and multiple regulatory bodies across the globe. As legal proceedings and investigations continue in several countries, the deal got approved in Japan. Today, on March 28, 2023, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), the regulatory body in the country, approved the deal, stating that it will not harm competition.
This approval is a significant win for Microsoft, as the deal got approved in the home country of Sony. The verdict of the report states that “There would be no substantial restraint of competition.” Interested readers can check the full report here, but it is only available in Japanese.
ゲーム関連事業を行う両社の統合について、海外当局と連携しつつ、内部文書や第三者からの情報・意見を含めて審査を行った結果、 日本市場の状況を踏まえ #独占禁止法 上の問題はないと判断しました。https://t.co/Db24s1FmWO https://t.co/hTF1kv5WbX pic.twitter.com/aIhEkesqtE
— 公正取引委員会 (@jftc) March 28, 2023
JFTC has cleared the deal despite arguments from Sony that if Microsoft would make Call of Duty exclusive, it would be unfair for PlayStation and gamers.
Similarly, the European Union and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are expected to reach the same decision. EU and CMA are yet to give their final decisions at the time of writing this news report.
Congress says Sony is hurting Xbox in Japan
At the same time, the United States Lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to act on the issue of competition between PlayStation and Xbox consoles in Japan.
They claim that Sony’s way of business in Japan is preventing US companies from competing in the Japanese gaming market. This may violate existing US-Japan trade agreements.
In a letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (via Axios), four House Republicans allege that Sony PlayStation has a 98% share of the “high-end console market in Japan”.
The letters also claims that Sony signs deals to keep hit Japanese games away from Microsoft’s Xbox marketplace. They also express concern about the imbalanced Japanese video game market, which they say may be due to discriminatory trade practices.
Six Washington state Democrats also sent a similar letter. The letters call on the US government to raise the issue with the Japanese government and identify additional barriers that prevent American companies from accessing the Japanese gaming market.
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