Microsoft has confirmed that Sony has been offered a deal that would keep the Call of Duty series on PlayStation systems for at least ten years.
Microsoft wants to buy Activision Blizzard for almost $70 billion. Before doing so, the two companies have to clear a number of hurdles as global competition watchdogs take a detailed look at the deal, the expected impact on the market and the potential downside for consumers.
Above all, the “Call of Duty” series and its possible exclusivity are viewed critically. But after a first offer to Sony from the PS5 manufacturer as not considered enough was corrected by Microsoft. The company is offering Sony a 10-year deal to make the deal less critical of regulators.
“The main potential competitive risk cited by Sony is that Microsoft would no longer make Call of Duty available on the PlayStation. But that would be economically unreasonable.” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft.
The company is apparently aware that releasing Call of Duty exclusively on Xbox systems would be massively detrimental to the franchise, as millions of players would be denied access and revenue would also be significantly reduced.
“A significant portion of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty revenue comes from sales of PlayStation games. Given the popularity of cross-play, it would also be disastrous for the Call of Duty franchise and Xbox itself, alienating millions of players.”
Same day on PlayStation
For the above reasons, Microsoft decided to offer Sony a deal that would keep the Call of Duty series on PlayStation systems for at least ten years. The Xbox provider would also enter into such an obligation for other platforms.
“That’s why we offered Sony a 10-year deal that would mean that any new Call of Duty release would be available on PlayStation the same day it was released on Xbox,” Smith said. “We stand ready to extend this commitment to other platforms and have them legally enforced by regulators in the US, UK and European Union.”
Microsoft’s focus on revenue and player losses has sometimes had less weight with other acquisitions. After buying Bethesda, Microsoft made it clear that “Starfield” as a new brand will no longer appear for PlayStation. But the established “The Elder Scrolls” series also avoids competing consoles with the next part, which also alienates millions of players.
The past exclusive decisions by Microsoft and the negative effects on consumers are likely to keep competition watchdogs in their sights. The European Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority recently launched in-depth investigations into the deal, while it is said that the FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit could file to prevent the Activision deal.
In this regard, Smith emphasized that in his view, suing Microsoft to stop the acquisition would be a huge mistake that would stifle competition and negatively impact consumers and game developers. Naturally, companies like Sony have opposing opinions on this point.
Cloud gaming and subscriptions are to be established
Smith also made it clear what goals Microsoft is pursuing with the takeover. Microsoft wants to compete with Apple and Google and push through subscriptions in the video game industry.
“While modern consumers can stream video or music across multiple devices through inexpensive subscriptions, many games can often only be purchased individually and downloaded onto one device. Microsoft wants to change that by offering consumers the ability to subscribe to a cloud gaming service that allows them to stream a variety of games to multiple devices for a reasonable fee.”
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What Microsoft means by a “reasonable fee” in the long term is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the Xbox provider does not shy away from price increases either. It was only announced yesterday that the The company’s first-party games will cost more in the future will. It remains to be seen whether or when Microsoft will also increase subscription fees for Xbox Game Pass.
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