After the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced an in-depth investigation of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, both Sony and Microsoft have publicly commented on the deal that could really change the competition between Xbox and PlayStation. Sony was first to comment on the CMA’s decision to say that it “welcomes the announcement.”
In a statement shared with Gameindustry.biz, Sony reiterated its concerns about PlayStation gamers possibly losing access to Call of Duty once Microsoft takes over Activision Blizzard. “By giving Microsoft control of Activision games like Call of Duty, this deal would have major negative implications for gamers and the future of the gaming industry. We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality gaming experience, and we appreciate the CMA’s focus on protecting gamers,” Sony said in the statement.
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The Call of Duty franchise has strong ties with PlayStation due to a marketing deal that started during the previous console generation. PlayStation gamers have enjoyed exclusive Call of Duty content for years, this will once again be the case for the upcoming Call of Duty Modern Warfare II. As it was announced yesterday, PlayStation gamers who pre-order Modern Warfare II will get early access to the game’s Multiplayer Beta starting today. They’ll also get an exclusive Oni Operator Pack to use in Modern Warfare II and Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0.
Obviously, Sony makes a lot of money from Call of Duty sales and microtransactions, so the company is right to worry about the franchise becoming exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem in the future. Earlier this month, though, Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming said that Microsoft was committed to keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several more years.”
“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 more years beyond the current Sony contract, an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements,” the Microsoft exec said in a statement to The Verge.
Following Sony’s reaction to the CMA’s in-depth investigation of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal, the Redmond giant also released another statement to appease regulators. “It makes zero business sense for Microsoft to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation given its market leading console position,” the company said in a statement to Eurogamer.
Microsoft still isn’t explicitly saying that Call of Duty will be available on PlayStation in perpetuity. In the short term, it’s true that it wouldn’t be in the company’s best interest to stop offering a game that sells millions of copies every year on PlayStation consoles.
In the past couple of months, Phil Spencer has said many times that Microsoft wants to expand access to its games and give players more choice in how they play their games. “We know players benefit from this approach because we’ve done it with Minecraft, which continues to be available on multiple platforms and has expanded to even more since Mojang joined Microsoft in 2014,” Spencer said earlier this month.
Microsoft initially expected its $68 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition to close before June 2023, but the company may also face increased scrutiny from the European Union in addition to the UK’s CMA. “It’s a big deal, a difficult deal,” a source from Brussels told the Financial Times this week. “It needs an extensive investigation.”