The much-debated Microsoft Activision-Blizzard merger is poised to go through, but only if Microsoft makes additional concessions. At least, that’s what Ampere Analysis analyst Piers Harding-Rolls believes. Every year at the start of a new year, GamesIndustry.biz asks a number of well-known industry analysts to offer their predictions for the following year, and one of the most notable predictions comes from Harding-Rolls.
The FTC sued Microsoft last month to stop the merger, and current reports say that Microsoft is eager to make concessions to shorten the regulatory process and finish the sale. According to Reuters, a brief pre-trial hearing by phone took place yesterday, and according to FTC attorney James Weingarten, no “substantive” settlement conversations between the FTC and Microsoft are currently occurring.
According to Harding-Rolls’ projection for this year, the rumoured concessions are expected to be critical to the deal’s completion. “Will the Microsoft-ABK deal go ahead?”, the analyst writes. “Yes, but with further concessions. Those could be focused on Game Pass inclusion of games and title availability on other services. I think there is a higher chance of the deal closing with concessions than of it being halted.”
When the merger will be completed depends on whether the case is resolved in court. If this is the case, the transaction may not be finalised until the second half of 2023. “When will the deal close? It could drag on into the second half of 2023 especially if the FTC’s case goes to court. If Microsoft agrees concessions and avoids court, the first half of 2023 is possible.”
The analyst also commented on Microsoft and Sony’s subscription services, predicting that Xbox Game Pass will rise significantly this year.
“The biggest games subscription services missed their growth targets in 2022, but I think there is reason to be positive in 2023. I’m expecting Game Pass to grow significantly in 2023 on the back of highly anticipated first-party games entering the service. If the ABK deal goes ahead, expect to see more mobile games in Game Pass. I’m also expecting Sony to secure more of its own third-party day one releases for PS Plus Extra and Premium and that will help drive adoption.”
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