Call of Duty to Remain on PlayStation After Microsoft and Sony’s Deal
After the proposed Activision Blizzard merger, Sony and Microsoft reached an agreement to preserve the Call of Duty series on PlayStation for 10 more years. Sony and Microsoft have reportedly reached a binding agreement to maintain Call of Duty on PlayStation, according to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.
This puts an end to the heated dispute between the two businesses that had been raging for the previous year, both in private and in public. Ever since Microsoft revealed its intentions to buy Activision Blizzard in January 2022.
Understanding the Revised Deal
Microsoft’s first agreement with Sony in January 2022 specified that all current Activision console titles on Sony, including future versions in the Call of Duty franchise or any other current Activision franchise through December 31st, 2027, will be maintained. The conditions of the agreement have altered since the initial offer, and the 10-year extension is only applicable to Call of Duty.
But during the FTC vs. Microsoft hearing, a shocking email from PlayStation CEO Ryan was read out in court. It suggested that he wasn’t truly concerned about Call of Duty exclusivity and was pretty sure we will continue to see Call of Duty on PlayStation for many years to come. Ryan had called Xbox CEO Phil Spencer in January 2022 to ask for assurances on Call of Duty, according to Microsoft’s lawyers, who argued Ryan didn’t initially have worries about the deal.
The agreement comes after months of discussions and counter-offers between Microsoft and Sony on the future of Activision content on PlayStation for the next 18 months. It was also disclosed at the FTC vs. Microsoft hearing that Xbox CEO Spencer sent PlayStation CEO Ryan an email on August 26. It included a list of Activision games that will continue to be available on PlayStation, and Ryan wasn’t pleased.
The email caused a breakdown in communication between Spencer and Ryan, leading to Spencer revealing Call of Duty’s continued presence on PlayStation beyond the current Sony contract. Ryan criticized Spencer’s public contract negotiations, stating they were inadequate and failed to consider the impact on gamers.
Escalating Tensions Between Microsoft and Sony
Tensions over Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal escalated when Jim Ryan spoke with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick on February 21st, 2023, during a meeting with EU regulators. Ryan expressed his desire to block the merger, claiming it was anti-competitive. Kotick hoped regulators would block the merger, while Microsoft attempted to tempt Sony into signing a deal.
Microsoft has consistently insisted that it will keep Call of Duty available on PlayStation, claiming that doing so would be financially unwise. Before testifying in court that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation, Spencer attempted to resolve the dispute in November.
The UK’s regulatory situation is a focus as Microsoft and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) discuss a case management conference. Both parties agreed to pause legal battles to address CMA’s cloud gaming concerns and warned of potential merger investigations. The conference is expected to adjourn proceedings pending further discussions.
Despite this, the CMA later announced an extension of its general inquiry into the transaction, pushing back the deadline for a final ruling from July 18 to August 29. Microsoft wants to complete its Activision transaction by the deadline of July 18. But there may be a slight delay so that the UK situation can be rectified.