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US judge grants Microsoft access to internal Sony documents on Activision Blizzard deal

As EU extends decision deadline, following Brussels hearing last week.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Season 2 Dome
Image credit: Activision

Microsoft has successfully won access to a trove of internal Sony documentation pertinent to its Activision Blizzard deal - something the PlayStation maker was fiercely opposed to.

Sony has emerged as the acquisition's key opponent, and Microsoft is hoping this ruling will allow it to gain leverage with the US regulator ahead of its own judgement.

A judge has now ruled that Microsoft can view Sony's communications with regulators about the Activision deal, as well as details of Sony's own exclusivity agreements with game publishers since 2019.

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Microsoft will now be able to see how Sony has approached regulators and argued against the deal from coming to pass, and view evidence of how Sony goes about securing its own exclusivity arrangements.

The exclusivity of Activision Blizzard games - most notably Call of Duty - has been a key concern of Sony and financial regulators when discussing Microsoft's deal. Just yesterday, Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft owning COD would mean the end of console-exclusive DLC.

In a separate development on the other side of the pond, Europe's regulator has decided to extend its deadline to decide whether Microsoft's $68.7bn Activision Blizzard buyout should go ahead (thanks, VGC). The European Commission will now reveal its judgement slightly later - on 25th April.

The news comes just a week after a key hearing in Brussels attended by top brass from Microsoft, Activision, Sony and Google.

Eurogamer reported live from a subsequent press conference in which Microsoft president Brad Smith announced that a deal had been reached with Nvidia to support the acquisition, on top of an earlier agreement with Nintendo, in a general bid to muster support.

With rulings on its deal approaching, Microsoft is still to convince a trio of major regulators on the virtues of its record-breaking purchase: the EU's European Commission, the US Federal Trade Commission and the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

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