In its response to the UK's competition regulator, Sony expressed its concerns regarding the Microsoft/Activision merger and hinted at the release date of its next-gen console.
The next generation of the PlayStation console won't arrive until at least 2027 – the news comes from Sony’s arguments against Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision, which were released as part of the UK's Competition and Markes Authority's investigation into the deal.
The UK's regulator has released a bunch of previously private documents including Sony's response to the CMA's decision to extend its investigation into the proposed acquisition which contains an interesting mention of PlayStation 6. In the 22-page document, Sony talks a lot about the future of the company and what might happen should the Microsoft/Activision merger go through.
In its response to the CMA, the company expressed its concern that the deal could "harm competition, industry participants, innovation, and consumers." The document also repeatedly emphasized the importance of the Call of Duty franchise for PlayStation saying that Microsoft had offered to keep Activision's games on the platform "only until 2027", which Sony claims is "badly adequate time" to find a replacement.
"By the time SIE launched the next generation of its PlayStation console [...], it would have lost access to Call of Duty and other Activision titles, making it extremely vulnerable to consumer switching and subsequent degradation in its competitiveness," the company wrote.
Sony also mentioned the exact year when it plans to launch PS6, however, it was blanked out in the publically available version of the document. Still, Sony's response suggests that the PlayStation 6 will not launch until after the 2027 Call of Duty cut-off date.
In addition, the company provided several arguments against the takeover (via VGC). For instance, it said that Microsoft’s "true strategy" behind its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is to get rid of the PlayStation as a direct competitor.
According to Sony, Microsoft "wants PlayStation to become like Nintendo" so that it will stop competing in the 18-rated shooter space. Sony representatives believe that the Xbox will become a home for FPS games if the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard goes through.
Sony fears that as a result of the merger, the Call of Duty series will actually become the exclusive property of Microsoft. As a result, the Xbox will become the "one-stop-shop" for all of the top-selling console shooters including Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, DOOM, and Overwatch.
SIE called Activision games, in particular, the Call of Duty series, "critical" for the PlayStation and said that the franchise is "firmly entrenched in gamers' psyche" since every part of the shooter has consistently topped the charts since 2003.
Among the newly-published documents is also Microsoft's 111-page response to the CMA's decision where the tech giant presented its arguments saying the takeover would not have a negative impact on competition in the gaming industry.
In the document, the company stated that Sony has a "dominant" position among console manufacturers and is almost twice the size of Microsoft as a game publisher and described Sony's exclusives, including God of War, The Last of Us, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Uncharted, Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Days Gone, as "iconic" titles.
Microsoft believes that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard will not have an anti-competitive effect as "Sony has more exclusive games than Microsoft, many of which are better quality."