What just happened? Microsoft has confirmed that it will not pull the Call of Duty series from the PlayStation if its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard receives the green light from regulators. The future of the FPS franchise has been a source of concern for PlayStation owners who feared Microsoft might make it an Xbox/PC exclusive, but it’s the clearest commitment Microsoft has made to the game. series remains on machines from Sony.
In a new podcast interview with Justine and Jenna Ezarik on Same Brain, YouTubers asked Xbox boss Phil Spencer about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard and whether it could mean certain games would no longer be available on Playstation.
“We’re not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation. I know that’s not exactly what you asked for, but just like to kick that one in the nose, that’s not our intention,” Spencer said. “Our intention is not to do that, and as long as there is a PlayStation to ship, our intention is to continue shipping Call of Duty on PlayStation, similar to what we have done with Minecraft since we’ve owned this. »
“We expanded the places where people can play Minecraft, we didn’t shrink the places, and that’s been good. It’s been good for the Minecraft community – my test – and I want to do the same as I think about where Call of Duty can go for years. »
Spencer hinted at the Wall Street Journal tech conference last week (via The Verge) that there are plans to bring Call of Duty to the Nintendo Switch and keep it available on other platforms, just like Microsoft did it with Minecraft.
Earlier this year, Spencer said Microsoft is committed to keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation for several years beyond the current deal between Sony and Activision, which covers the next two versions of the series after the recent launch. from Modern Warfare II. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan was unimpressed with the offer, calling it “inadequate on many levels”.
Microsoft’s intentions for Activision Blizzard’s games have been a sticking point for regulators reviewing the deal. The UK Competition and Markets Authority has expressed concerns that Microsoft will “withhold or downgrade” Activision Blizzard titles from other consoles or subscription services if the acquisition is completed. The issue led to the Watchdog’s extended Phase 2 probe last month.
Microsoft told the regulator that Sony greatly overstated the importance of the CoD series and that the loss of a single franchise would not challenge the Japanese giant’s dominance. He added that making Call of Duty available on Game Pass does not guarantee that it will sell more Xbox consoles. But Microsoft tried to allay concerns that it would make CoD Xbox/PC-only by outlining the amount of revenue that would be at risk if it made such a move.
Spencer seems to leave little doubt about Microsoft’s intentions for Call of Duty, but he wouldn’t be the first executive to break a promise. Assuming the deal is approved, Microsoft will officially acquire Activision Blizzard by the company’s fiscal year-end, June 2023.