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Sony accuses Microsoft of "obvious harassment" as battle for Activision Blizzard gets even uglier

It's a sabotage.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Image credit: Activision

Sony has accused Microsoft of "obvious harassment" as the battle for Activision Blizzard heated up this week.

As reported by Axios Axios, Microsoft wanted to see files on Sony executives, including performance reviews, as part of the "discovery" phase of this particularly bitter legal battle with the US' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over Microsoft's proposed $69bn buyout of Activision Blizzard.

In a motion filed to the court, Sony issued strong words in response: "Microsoft's demand for performance reviews for SIE's leadership is obvious harassment."

Sony continued: "Even in employment cases courts require a specific showing of relevance before requiring production of personnel files.

"This is not an employment case."

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As spotted by Kotaku, presiding Judge D. Michael Chappell agreed with Sony, saying: "SIE has demonstrated good cause for the requested relief."

While all this is rumbling along, Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick has had his say in a number of interviews with the financial press. As you'd expect, he very much wants this deal to go through.

Fresh from insisting any block by the UK would leave post-Brexit Britain looking like "Death Valley", Kotick has now accused Sony of trying to "sabotage" the deal, which, well, yes, obviously they are.

Perhaps more interesting is Kotick's allegation that not only has Sony stopped talking to Microsoft, but that it has also stopped talking to him.

"Suddenly, Sony's entire leadership team stopped talking to anyone at Microsoft," Kotick told the FT. The FT then includes this line, following the quote: "... adding that his own calls to Sony's chief and other executives were not returned."

"I think this is all Sony just trying to sabotage the transaction. The whole idea that we are not going to support a PlayStation or that Microsoft would not support the PlayStation, it is absurd."

Let's remember Activision Blizzard is one of Sony's closest partners when it comes to PlayStation. Activison's Call of Duty, which this whole row is ostensibly about, goes ganbusters on Sony's console, generating millions of dollars for both parties. Indeed, Sony has deals in place with Activision for exclusive Call of Duty content, such as combat packs for PlayStation Plus members.

This week, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised significant concerns over the deal going ahead. It said Microsoft owning Activision "could harm UK gamers" and potentially result in "higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation".

While provisional, the findings paint a gloomy picture for Microsoft - against a similar backdrop of concerns raised by the FTC and the EU's European Commission, which have both contested the deal as it currently stands.

Despite all the legal blocks Microsoft faces, executives are at least publicly insisting they're still confident the deal will go through. Kotick himself said he's optimistic it will close by July.

Microsoft and Activision have two weeks to respond to the CMA, who make a final decision in April.