I don’t think so. For every case of a merger being blocked due to concerns from competition authorities, there’ll be dozens of cases of cartels, illegal bundling, using a dominant market position in one market to gain an advantage in another, etc.
You wrote “create a monopoly” like half a dozen times in that post. That’s not the relevant standard. Nor is the bar set at preventing competition, but at merely substantially reducing it. What’s substantial? The law doesn’t define it. It’s totally subjective and up to the regulators to decide when making a decision to sue, and for the judge to decide when making a verdict.
The chain of logic from why this acquisition will reduce competition is simple though. That’s why I asked the multiple-choice question that you didn’t answer. (I know you meant well in writing a long reply instead, but it just ended up obfuscating your position, and I still don’t understand where the core of the
The logic would be:
- Availability of games matters for which games console people buy.
- People buying games consoles care more about the availability of some games than others.
- Call of Duty is one of the franchises that the console audience cares the most about (probably not just “one of”, but really the most – FIFA and GTA are the only others I think could even be in competition)
- If Call of Duty is only available on one platform, or significantly advantaged on a platform. a large portion of console gamers will prefer that platform.
- Microsoft buying CoD and giving it preferential treatment on Xbox will disadvantage Playstation, their only competition in this market.
I think 1 and 2 are obvious common sense. 3 is easy to prove. 4 and 5 follow logically.
So why isn’t it anti-competitive for Sony or Microsoft to publish exclusives? Because the standard for a merger are different than the standards for normal operation of a company. It’s not anti-competive to just make a better product. (E.g. Facebook buying WhatsApp got a lot more antitrust scrutiny than Facebook launching their own messenger product). That’s not to say that a company couldn’t be so dominant in one market that they’re forced to cater to the competition, but the bar for that is a lot higher than Sony and consoles. (E.g. EU forcing Microsoft to add a browser selection dialog as a post-install step to Windows, and search engine selection to Android.)
Why isn’t it anti-competitive for Sony to buy Bungie (or hypothetically, e.g. for Microsoft to buy CDPR)? Because those companies have very few games, and those games aren’t important enough to drive purchasing decisions, and thus wouldn’t meet the bar for the reduction in competition being substantial enough. What’s the threshold for important enough? I suggested a list in the previous message.
Not the relevant market. Again, CoD alone is almost certainly bigger than all of Sony’s 1p games combined. Sure, Sony has a lot of revenue in gaming as a sector. But most of it is hardware, licensing fees, and subscriptions.
Now, Sony does have a larger console platform than Microsoft has. And there are areas where that larger platform could be used in an anti-competitive manner.
The ban on cross-platform multiplayer is an obvious case; preventing cross-platform play led to people having to buy the console that most of their friends had, which gave Playstation an unfair advantage since they had the largest initial user-base. No matter what improvements MS made after their initial disaster, that was a steep hill to climb. And this was a totally artificial restriction, with no real benefit to the users, saving Sony any resources. If Sony hadn’t lifted the ban, I think they would have ended up in an antitrust case and lost. (And that despite Sony not having a monopoly, because having or gaining a monopoly is not a requirement for something being anti-competitive!)