In the ongoing court battle between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a heated debate has emerged regarding the iconic video game franchise Call of Duty.
As experts took the stand on the third day of the trial, conflicting opinions occurred regarding whether Call of Duty should be classified as a gaming unicorn.
The courtroom witnessed the testimony of economic experts summoned by both parties. Dr. Robin Lee represented the FTC. On the other hand, Microsoft requested Dr. Elizabeth Bailey to present their arguments.
Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley asked whether Call of Duty can be considered a unicorn or not. The game’s unicorn status as “a one-of-a-kind asset in terms of durability, popularity, and sales” has been argued by the two experts.
Dr. Lee, the first to testify, acknowledged the unicorn status of Call of Duty, emphasizing its irreplaceability in the gaming market. According to Dr. Lee, even if Xbox secures exclusive rights to Call of Duty, it would be incredibly challenging for PlayStation or any other competitor to replicate its success.
The annual release schedule of the franchise was highlighted as a critical factor distinguishing Call of Duty from its counterparts, as most franchises do not follow such a frequent content release pattern.
“In my opinion, the scarcity of new content is a testament to its uniqueness since AAA games are not released as frequently,” Dr. Lee stated.
Dr. Bailey countered this viewpoint during her testimony that afternoon. Disagreeing with Dr. Lee, she argued that Call Duty lacks the qualities of an essential or uniquely significant game.
Dr. Bailey dismissed the notion of Call of Duty being a unicorn and contended that Dr. Lee’s perspective was too narrow. Furthermore, she suggested that the proposed merger can possibly increase the reach of Activision games.
Throughout the Microsoft FTC trial, Call of Duty has undeniably been a central point of contention. Although other games like Starfield have also been mentioned, PlayStation’s Jim Ryan clarified the exclusivity of Starfield on Xbox as a non-anti-competitive move.
As the trial progresses, the court will have to weigh the arguments put forth by the experts regarding the unicorn status of Call of Duty and its potential implications for Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard .
The outcome of this high-stakes legal battle will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the gaming industry.