Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer revealed that the company is committed to upholding Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several more years” outside Sony’s existing marketing deal with Activision.
Sony isn’t sure, though, just as Microsoft is in the epicenter of endeavoring to get its $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard deal endorsed by regulators.
Sony and Microsoft are combating Call of Duty’s future. Sony isn’t satisfied with Microsoft’s proposal. Sony has labeled Microsoft’s bid to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation “inadequate on many levels.”
“Microsoft has only proposed for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the recent agreement between Activision and Sony ends,” explains PlayStation chief Jim Ryan in a message to Games Industry.biz.
“After nearly 20 years of Call of Duty on PlayStation, their proposal was insufficient on many levels and forgot to take account of the impact on our gamers. We desire to guarantee PlayStation gamers have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal disables this principle.”
Ryan’s statement explains that “several more years” is three years after Sony’s Call of Duty marketing deal ends. Microsoft was committed to unleashing Call of Duty on PlayStation “for at least the next two years,” indicating that Sony’s marketing bargain for the franchise could expire in 2024. That could suggest Microsoft has only offered up until 2027.
“I hadn’t planned to comment on what I understood to be a private business forum, but I feel the necessity to set the record straight because Phil Spencer obtained this into the public forum,” Ryan said. Spencer said Microsoft’s proposal “goes well beyond standard gaming industry agreements,” but it’s insufficient to ease Sony’s worries over the franchise.
Call of Duty is Activision’s most prominent selling franchise. Sony and Microsoft Attorneys have been disputing the importance of Call of Duty in documents offered to CADE, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense regulator of Brazil, and it’s a big deal for both companies. Sony asserts it would be difficult for other developers to build a franchise that opponents Activision’s Call of Duty and that it states “as a gaming class on its own.” Microsoft claims it’s not as critical as its rival drives it. The reality is somewhere in the middle.
Microsoft may need to offer more guarantees over Call of Duty’s future to Sony, especially as regulators examine competition fears over the franchise in the UK, Europe, the US, and elsewhere. For example, last week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) moved to investigate Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal more closely. The CMA is proceeding to a Phase 2 investigation that will catch it appoint an independent panel to resolve whether Microsoft’s control over games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft could hurt rivals.
How many years Call of Duty has been secured on PlayStation still isn’t clear. Still, Microsoft was committed to releasing Call of Duty on PS “for at least the subsequent two years,” indicating that Sony’s marketing value for the franchise could expire in 2024. Microsoft then publicly engaged in February to keep Call of Duty “available on PlayStation exceeding the existing understanding and into the future.”
Call of Duty fans still argues whether Microsoft could technically create the game an Xbox exclusive if the Activision Blizzard deal finalizes. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s latest statement doesn’t address what occurs after those “several more years.” Still, the business is willing to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation for a more extended than expected period than it contractually has to.
Part of that commitment will reduce fears from regulators investigating Microsoft’s $68.7 billion deal to formulate Activision Blizzard. Lawyers for Sony and Microsoft have been debating over the importance of Call of Duty in documents proffered to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) regulator, and it’s a sticking issue.
Sony argues it would be questioning for other developers to create a franchise that rivals Activision’s Call of Duty and that it comes out “as a gaming category on its own.” Microsoft argues it’s not as crucial as its rival makes it out to be. The reality is somewhere in the middle. Microsoft has also discussed in these documents to CADE that not broadcasting games like Call of Duty at opponent console stores “would simply not be profitable” for the business.