Microsoft will still keep Call of Duty on PlayStation after its deal with Activision

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    Beyond the current marketing agreement Sony has with Activision, Microsoft promises to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for “some more years.” The promise was made by Xbox and Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in a letter to PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan earlier this year, and it’s the most convincing evidence yet that Call of Duty won’t abruptly disappear from PlayStation platforms if Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of PlayStation is approved by regulators.

    “In January, we provided a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation, with feature and content parity, for at least several more years beyond the current Sony contract, an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements,” says Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.

    It’s still unclear exactly how long Call of Duty will be available on PlayStation, but Bloomberg initially stated earlier this year that Microsoft was committed to making the game available on the platform “for at least the next two years.” This suggested that Sony’s marketing agreement for the franchise might end in 2024. After then, Call of Duty would continue to be “available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future,” according to a public statement from Microsoft in February.

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    If the Activision Blizzard merger is finalized, Call of Duty enthusiasts continues to argue about whether Microsoft could officially make the game an Xbox exclusive. What happens after those “Several more years” is not addressed in Microsoft’s most recent statement, but it is obvious that the business is willing to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation for a longer amount of time than it is legally required to.

    This dedication will include assuaging regulators’ concerns ” they examine Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The significance of Call of Duty has been a subject of contention between Sony and Microsoft’s legal teams in documents presented to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) regulator.

    The Call of Duty franchise, according to Sony, is unique “as a gaming category on its own” and would be challenging for other creators to match. Microsoft contends that it isn’t as significant as its competition portrays it to be. The truth lies someplace in between. Microsoft also contended in these documents to CADE that the corporation “would simply not be profitable” if Call of Duty and other video games were not sold through competing console retailers.

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    According to Microsoft, a strategy of not making Activision Blizzard games available on competing consoles would only be profitable if the games were able to draw a significant number of players into the Xbox ecosystem, generating income to make up for losses from not making these titles available on competing consoles.

    After Microsoft acquired Bethesda last year, concerns about Call of Duty’s Xbox exclusivity were also raised. For Deathloop on the PlayStation, Microsoft committed to upholding current contractual arrangements with Sony but went on to make Redfall and Starfield Xbox and PC-only.

    Concerns about Call of Duty’s impact on competition have also significantly influenced the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to move to further probe Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard merger. Phase 2 of the CMA’s probe will see the appointment of an impartial panel to examine whether Microsoft’s ownership over games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft could be detrimental to competitors.

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    As long as the Call of Duty franchise has been, there has been competition between Xbox and PlayStation over it. After Xbox had been the traditional home for Call of Duty, Sony famously won a contract for additional Call of Duty downloadable content for PlayStation users in 2015. As Microsoft and Sony’s attorneys continue their legal war over Call of Duty and regulators try to determine just how significant it truly is, that conflict will undoubtedly continue.

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