The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has laid out some of the concerns it has about Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard.
In a post on the organisation's website, it detailed the reasons why it felt it had to proceed to a second phase investigation into the deal. Seemingly the biggest reason is that the CMA believes the deal will harm PlayStation, as well as other companies that offer subscription services. The organisation reckons that Microsoft could withhold its first-party content – including Activision Blizzard games – from other services in order to bolster its own.
The body also thinks that within the console market, hardware with a lot of content will attract more content. As a result, Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard has the potential to give the platform holder an exponential advantage in the future.
"The CMA is concerned that having full control over this powerful catalogue, especially in light of Microsoft's already strong position in gaming consoles, operating systems, and cloud infrastructure, could result in Microsoft harming consumers by impairing Sony's – Microsoft's closest gaming rival – ability to compete as well as that of other existing rivals and potential new entrants who could otherwise bring healthy competition through innovative multi-game subscriptions and cloud gaming services," the CMA wrote.
The CMA also points to the possibility of Activision Blizzard titles coming to something like Xbox Game Pass on the day of release giving Microsoft a huge advantage in the subscription and streaming space.
"The CMA recognises that ABK's newest games are not currently available on any subscription service on the day of release but considers that this may change as subscription services continue to grow. After the Merger, Microsoft would gain control of this important input and could use it to harm the competitiveness of its rivals."
Microsoft has responded to Sony's concerns about the deal, pointing out that the PlayStation firm has a much larger install base of 150 million compared to its 63.7 million.
"The suggestion that the incumbent market leader, with clear and enduring market power, could be foreclosed by the third largest provider as a result of losing access to one title is not credible," Microsoft said in a statement to GI.biz.
"In short, Sony is not vulnerable to a hypothetical foreclosure strategy, and the Referral Decision incorrectly relies on self-serving statements by Sony which significantly exaggerate the importance of Call of Duty to it and neglect to account for Sony's clear ability to competitively respond," Microsoft added.
"While Sony may not welcome increased competition, it has the ability to adapt and compete. Gamers will ultimately benefit from this increased competition and choice."