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Image: Push Square

Sony and Microsoft’s very public war of words continues, with paperwork published by the UK government today outlining PlayStation’s stance against Xbox’s unprecedented near-$70 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In the document, the Japanese giant’s legal team responds to a point from its Redmond rival, which suggested Nintendo has been able to compete fine without access to the all-important Call of Duty franchise.

Nintendo Switch has, of course, become a powerhouse platform – but it competes less directly with PlayStation and Xbox, offering a portable, more family-friendly alternative. Sony’s legal team argues this exposes Microsoft’s “true strategy”. It claims: “Microsoft wants PlayStation to become like Nintendo, so that it would be a less close and less effective competitor to Xbox. Post-transaction, Xbox would become the one-stop shop for all the best-selling shooter franchises on console (Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, DOOM, Overwatch), […] and it would then be free from serious competitive pressure.”

It’s a hard point to argue with, really. While some may propose that PlayStation has first-person shooter franchises of its own, like Killzone, it’s been almost ten years since the last instalment in that series – and Sony also argues that such is the scale of Call of Duty, it’s effectively impossible to create a rival brand at this point. We’re not sure whether Microsoft truly “wants PlayStation to become like Nintendo”, but we can see the point; as things stand there’s overlap between Xbox Series X|S and PS5 where both consoles compete for similar consumers. Taking away Call of Duty would tip the scales significantly in Microsoft’s favour for a lot of those players.