Microsoft is committed to maintaining Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several years” beyond the existing marketing agreement between Sony and Activision. Microsoft Gaming CEO and Xbox chief Phil Spencer pledged in a letter written to PlayStation chief Jim Ryan earlier this year, and it’s the clearest sign yet that Call of Duty won’t suddenly disappear from PlayStation platforms if Microsoft’s $68.7 billion deal is approved by regulators.
“In January, we provided a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation, with feature and content parity, for at least several years beyond the current Sony contract, an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry deals,” said the Microsoft CEO. Gaming, Phil Spencer, in a statement to The edge.
Exactly how many years Call of Duty is guaranteed on PlayStation is still not crystal clear, but Bloomberg originally reported earlier this year that Microsoft was committed to releasing Call of Duty on PlayStation “for at least the next two years”, suggesting Sony’s marketing deal for the franchise could expire in 2024. Microsoft then publicly pledged in February to maintain Call of Duty “available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future.”
Call of Duty fans are still wondering if Microsoft could technically make the game an Xbox exclusive if the Activision Blizzard deal closes. Microsoft’s latest statement doesn’t address what will happen after these “several years,” but it’s clear the company is prepared to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation for a longer period than usual than contractually required.
Part of that commitment will be allaying fears of regulators analyzing Microsoft’s $68.7 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. Lawyers for Sony and Microsoft argued over the importance of Call of Duty in the documents submitted to the regulator of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) of Brazil, and this is clearly a sticking point.
Sony says it would be difficult for other developers to create a franchise that rivals Activision’s Call of Duty and that it stands out “as a game category in its own right.” Microsoft argues that’s not as important as its rival claims. The reality is somewhere in the middle. Microsoft also argued in these documents to CADE that not distributing games like Call of Duty in competing console stores “just wouldn’t be profitable” for the company.
Microsoft says a strategy of not distributing Activision Blizzard games on rival consoles would only be profitable if the games could attract a large number of players to the Xbox ecosystem, which would generate revenue to offset losses due to the non-sale of these titles on rival consoles.
Fears around Xbox exclusivity for Call of Duty were also thrilled after Microsoft acquired Bethesda last year. Microsoft has promised to keep existing contractual agreements with Sony for Death Loop on PlayStation but continued to do red fall and star field Xbox and PC exclusives.
Call of Duty Competition fears also played a significant role in the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to investigate Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal more closely. The CMA is moving to a Phase 2 investigation which will see it appoint an independent panel to determine whether Microsoft’s control over games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft could harm its rivals.
The battle is over Call of Duty between Xbox and PlayStation has been around for as long as the franchise has existed. Sony has secured a deal for more Call of Duty downloadable content for PlayStation fans in 2015, after Xbox had been the traditional home for Call of Duty. This battle will surely continue as Microsoft and Sony lawyers continue to argue Call of Dutyand regulators are trying to decide exactly how important it really is.
. Microsoft will keep Call Duty on PlayStation for several years