Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is being heavily scrutinized by regulatory bodies across the globe, with the likes of the UK’s CMA, the European Union, and the US’ FTC looking deeper into the deal over fears of its impact on competition in the market. Specifically, Sony has emerged as one of the deal’s biggest opponents, with the company having frequently expressed its concerns over the potential of Call of Duty eventually becoming exclusive to Xbox.
Microsoft, however, has taken another step in its attempt to allay those worries. In an opinion piece published on The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft president Brad Smith has confirmed the details of a recent report, which claimed that the company has offered a longer-term deal to Sony that will commit to keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation for the next ten years.
“Sony has emerged as the loudest objector. It’s as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix,” Smith writes. “The main supposed potential anticompetitive risk Sony raises is that Microsoft would stop making Call of Duty available on the PlayStation. But that would be economically irrational. A vital part of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty revenue comes from PlayStation game sales. Given the popularity of cross-play, it would also be disastrous to the Call of Duty franchise and Xbox itself, alienating millions of gamers.
“That’s why we’ve offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new Call of Duty release available on PlayStation the same day it comes to Xbox. We’re open to providing the same commitment to other platforms and making it legally enforceable by regulators in the U.S., U.K. and European Union. Microsoft made a similar commitment to the European Commission when we acquired LinkedIn in 2016, ensuring access to key technologies for competing services.”
Earlier in the year, Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft had offered a similar deal to Sony, though PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said in a response shortly afterward that the deal only extended for three years beyond Sony’s existent agreement with Activision (which reportedly runs until 2025), and was thus deemed inadequate. In October, it was also reported that Ryan had “personally visited” the EU’s headquarters to voice his concerns over the proposed acquisition.
Since then, Microsoft has said that it’s willing to offer Sony a longer-term commitment, with Spencer also saying that once (and if) the Activision Blizzard deal is finalized, Microsoft intends to keeping releasing Call of Duty on PlayStation as long as PlayStation exists.