In the midst of the soap opera for the purchase of Activision Blizzard, the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, has been the last to come out to publicly defend the agreement valued at almost 69,000 million dollars. In an opinion column published by The Wall Street Journalthe executive dismissed criticism from Sony and assured that he would stop offering call of duty on PlayStation it is not in their plans. To the point of qualifying such a decision as “disastrous” and “economically irrational.”
The moment chosen by Smith to go out and talk about the subject is not accidental, nor is the direct reference to the future of call of duty. Weeks ago, it came to light that the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would prepare a legal case that could bring down the acquisition. And the manager himself has chosen to refer to the subject from the first line of his article. “Reportedly, the FTC plans to sue Microsoft to stop our proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. That would be a huge mistake. It would hurt competition, consumers and thousands of game developers,” he said.
The president of Microsoft assures that the intention of Xbox is to strengthen its subscription cloud gaming service —Xbox Game Pass— so that it has an increasingly affordable price. But for this you need to have a very wide catalog of popular games. “As it is, we just don’t have enough today,” he said.
That’s where the addition of franchises like call of duty plays a transcendental role for the company’s plans. And Smith was quick to point out that Sony’s objections to the purchase of Activision Blizzard they have no livelihood. A statement that echoes what was said on multiple occasions by Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
“The main potential anti-competitive risk posed by Sony is that Microsoft would stop offering call of duty on PlayStation. But that would be economically irrational. A vital part of the income of call of duty of Activision Blizzard comes from the sales of PlayStation games. Given the popularity of crossplayit would also be disastrous for the franchise call of duty and Xbox itself, alienating millions of gamers.”
Brad Smith, President of Microsoft.
call of dutyunder equal conditions on PlayStation and Xbox for 10 years
One of the most interesting points in Brad Smith’s article is that it confirms that Microsoft offered Sony the possibility of throw call of duty on PlayStation under the same conditions as on Xbox for 10 years. That is to say, that the future games of the popular shooter in first person are released simultaneously on both platforms.
This would not necessarily imply the disappearance of call of duty on PlayStation after said period has elapsed. Although it could mean that, after that agreement, the new installments of the shooting game will arrive first on Xbox, and later on the Sony console.
But Microsoft goes even further, and claims to be willing to offer the same commitment to any other platform. Even under the possibility that compliance with the agreement is required by law before the main regulators in the world.
It will be interesting to see if Sony picks up the gauntlet and comes out to respond to Brad Smith’s sayings. In September, Jim Ryan, CEO of PlayStation, came down hard on the Redmonds, accusing them of making a proposal “inadequate on many levels.” According to the executive of the Japanese firm, Microsoft had offered to keep call of duty on your console for only three more years, once the current contract between the Japanese and Activision Blizzard expires, which expires in 2024.
For now, those led by Satya Nadella maintain that the purchase of Activision will not affect competition. Microsoft says Xbox is the third-selling console behind PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, and that it doesn’t have a significant presence in the mobile gaming market, though that could change in the future. Will their arguments be enough to convince regulators to approve the acquisition? The answer will only be known in 2023.