An European Commission staff member has raised eyebrows for their public comments on the organisation's ongoing investigation into Microsoft's $68.7bn Activision Blizzard takeover bid - and prompted the EU Commission itself to respond.
Last week, Commission member Ricardo Cardoso tweeted to say that the organisation was "working to ensure that you will still be able to play Call of Duty on other consoles (including my PlayStation)."
On the one hand, the comment simply describes the situation as Microsoft has too - that Activision's blockbuster shooter franchise will remain on Sony platforms "as long as there's a PlayStation out there to ship to". On the other, fans expressed surprise a Commission staff member was discussing the matter publicly, and expressing an opinion which seemed mostly concerned with their own console choice.
The Commission itself has now weighed in, and issued a short statement noting that Cardoso is not directly involved in the organisation's Activision Blizzard investigation process.
"Mr Cardoso works in the Director General for the Internal Market and not in the Directorate General for Competition," the Commission stated to TweakTown. "Mr Cardoso is not involved in the assessment of this transaction. Furthermore, as indicated clearly in his Twitter profile, he tweets in a personal capacity."
Cardoso himself has also now issued a statement via Twitter to address the matter further.
"To clarify," Cardoso wrote, "I am not involved in the assessment of the merger and don't even work in the department dealing with mergers.
"As is clear from my profile my comments are personal and not a Commission position, whose decision will be taken on the basis of the facts and the law."
To clarify: I am not involved in the assessment of the merger and don't even work in the department dealing with mergers. As is clear from my profile my comments are personal and not a Commission position, whose decision will be taken on the basis of the facts and the law.— Ricardo Cardoso (@RCardosoEU) November 12, 2022
The European Commission announced its new, more "in-depth" investigation into the Microsoft-Activision deal last week, following the conclusion of a more preliminary look.
The UK's own Competition and Markets Authority is similarly now scrutinising the deal, with a particular emphasis on the likely impact to Sony of Microsoft owning Call of Duty and including it within Xbox Game Pass.
Both organisations are expected to report their findings in the spring.
Acknowledging the European Commission's expanded investigation in an open letter shared on Activision Blizzard's investor website, CEO Bobby Kotick wrote, "We have been working closely with Microsoft to actively engage regulators in other key countries to answer their questions and provide them with information to assist with their review. People from across our business units and functions have been involved in this regulatory work, and I want to thank each of you for your tireless work and commitment to completing this merger, which we continue to expect to close in Microsoft’s current fiscal year ending June 2023."