As reported by VGC, Microsoft has apparently served Sony Interactive Entertainment, meaning PlayStation, a subpoena to appear in court and "divulge details of PlayStation's game production pipeline" in the upcoming trial against the FTC. This trial shall decide the fate of Microsoft's pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard within the United States market, which is inarguably the biggest gaming market in the western world.
Microsoft first announced its intention to purchase Activision for $69 billion and acquire all of its studios and IP in January 2022, however, over the course of the year, the tech giant has faced severe pushback from regulatory institutions across the world that believe that the acquisition has the potential to harm fair market competition in the video game industry. A lot of the concern has been centered around Activision's Call of Duty, which is certifiably one of the biggest and most profitable gaming franchises in the world.
Sony and PlayStation have argued that Call of Duty is "irreplaceable," touting its sheer commercial success and how consistent said success has been over the past two decades, approximately. Though Xbox owner Microsoft has argued that Sony "exaggerates" the importance of Call of Duty, regulators, like the CMA in the UK, do believe the acquisition could hamper PlayStation's ability to compete with Xbox.
In an attempt to placate regulators, Microsoft has committed to signing a deal with Sony in which Call of Duty would not be an Xbox exclusive for at least ten years. They even agreed to allow Call of Duty on PlayStation Plus (PlayStation's subscription service), though the details of this commitment are unclear.
Microsoft continues to argue that PlayStation has long engaged in creating and purchasing exclusive content for its platform, so Xbox shouldn't be penalized for doing the same. Therefore, it appears as though Microsoft believes that having PlayStation reveal its production pipeline would benefit its case. This has undoubtedly placed Sony in a tough position, as such a request could have PlayStation reveal documents that contain information about future and past PlayStation projects, which fans aren't privy to, much like what happened with the Epic Games and Apple case.
As per VGC, Sony has until January 27 to respond to the subpoena. PlayStation is technically not legally bound to appear in court, however, if the judge considers its appearance relevant to the case and finds its reasons to quash the subpoena insufficient, then it may be forced to provide some necessary documentation or face fines and/or other penalties.
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