Sony Expects Activision Games to Remain on PlayStation Following Microsoft Deal

On the heels of Microsoft’s mega $69 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, scuttlebutt suggests the deal could see the elimination of marquee Activision franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “Warcraft” from the Sony PlayStation platform.

While the speculation of the deal valued at $75 billion sent Sony’s stock price tumbling, the media giant quickly issued a statement contending it expects its PlayStation platform will continue to have access to Activision games going forward.

“We expect that Microsoft will abide by contractual agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are multiplatform,” a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

The deal undoubtedly faces regulatory scrutiny over exactly such issues before it is approved sometime next year. Regardless, Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter contends Microsoft/Xbox’s market leverage increases exponentially going forward.

“[The acquisition] has great potential to hurt PlayStation, and that is likely to be [a] sticking point with regulators,” Pachter said in an email. “Who would buy a PS5 if they aren’t assured that future Activision games will be available on the platform?  That is a problem, and I expect regulators to raise it.”

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The analyst contends regulators would (if the merger is approved) likely mandate a consent decree that requires Microsoft to continue to offer Activision games on PS5 for a number of years.

“But until the regulators look at this, we won’t know for sure,” Pachter said.

While issues involving Activision titles made available for PlayStation generate news, Microsoft’s goal behind the deal appears more cloud based than console. The tech giant, along with most of its competitors, has been transitioning many of its products to a subscription-based business model.

With an eye toward replicating the success Netflix had creating the SVOD market, Microsoft is aiming significantly up its Game Pass subscription service. The Activision deal would make Microsoft the No. 3 game publisher in the world. Media reports suggest 400 million gamers engage with Activision titles on a monthly basis — a tally, if converted into subscribers, would exceed the combined subscriber bases of Netflix and Disney+.

“Together with Activision Blizzard, we have an incredible opportunity to invest and innovate, to create the best content, community and cloud for gamers to build substantial new value for our shareholders,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on a Jan. 19 media call.

NBCUniversal’s Hayu Bows Reality TV Streaming Service Overseas on Xbox

NBCUniversal International Aug. 4 announced that Hayu — the ad-free subscription-based reality on-demand (SVOD) service — is now available on Xbox consoles internationally. The deal marks the platform’s first console agreement.

The NBCUI licensed app, which costs €4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial, is expanding to 22 territories via the Xbox Microsoft Store to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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“It’s been an incredible year for Hayu with 2021 marking our fifth year of operation in the U.K., Ireland and Australia, as well as launches in new territories and expanded global distribution through partnerships with affiliates and device manufacturers,” Hendrik McDermott, managing director of Hayu, said in a statement.

Hayu offers more than 8,000 episodes of unscented subgenres in English, including House and Design, Dating, Cooking, Crime and Fashion. The breadth of Hayu’s content makes it possible to uniquely meet the needs of reality TV fans. Subscribers also don’t have to worry about spoilers as the vast majority of programs are available on Hayu on the day they air in the U.S.

Microsoft Bows 40-Foot Replica of Xbox Series X to Celebrate Nov. 10 Launch

Microsoft Corp. unveiled a 40-foot-tall replica of the Xbox Series X in the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state the weekend before the Nov. 10 launch of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

The structure featured a rotation of dream-inspired art from local artists — a nod to the Xbox Power Your Dreams campaign for the new consoles.

Nov. 9 the installation footage started streaming online, revealing clues for #SolveForX, an online global scavenger hunt. Consumers can follow @Xbox Twitter to review rules and participate for their chance to win the Ultimate Xbox Experience bundle or one of seven Xbox Series X consoles. Select pieces of art will also be made available digitally after launch.

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The installation is one of many activations worldwide approaching launch day, all of which will be featured in the official Xbox launch livestream on Nov. 10 starting 11 a.m. PT.