Microsoft offered Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation but the deal is “inadequate”

Posted on September 10, 2022

Sony and Microsoft have been fighting a lot these past few months. We’ve seen Microsoft and Sony buying studios up recently too, with Sony buying Bungie in February of this year and Microsoft buying Activision-Blizzard. Due to the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, Microsoft has to get the OK from competitor regulators around the world. The company spoke with over 20 countries (including Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission). Brazil was one of the countries that spoke about this and the government ended up publishing the conversations in full. They ask third party companies about the transaction, what they think about it, and compare information. A user on the Resetera forums brought up this information and even translated it.

Sony said “no developer could create a franchise to rival Activision’s Call of Duty”, as the game is so popular it “influences users’ choice of console”. Sony is saying that Call of Duty (CoD) is so important that there are no other competitors. But companies like Ubisoft, Bandai Namco and Riot Games all say that CoD has competitors. In August, Microsoft replied to these claims in a 27-page document. From Video Games Chronicle, Microsoft says that only Sony “presented materially different opinions” than the other companies. Because of that, Sony is “isolated in this understanding”. As a mic drop, Microsoft states that “Sony does not want attractive subscription services to threaten its dominance in the digital distribution market for console games”
In an article from Games, PlayStation’s CEO Jim Ryan said that the CoD offer was “inadequate on many levels”. This is surprising, since in January of this year, Phil Spencer tweeted that CoD would stay on PlayStation. Yet, it was only last week that Xbox said that CoD would be on PlayStation “for at least several more years” beyond the existing contract. Ryan states that this was a “private business discussion” and that Spencer “brought this into the public forum”

Person playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare on a large TV screen, they're wearing headphones with their back to the camera

The reason why this deal is inadequate, is because Microsoft “only offered [CoD] to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends”. This deal doesn’t take into account the impact it will have on the consumers. Ryan guarantees that “PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality [CoD] experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle”
A lot of folks have opinions about exclusivity deals on specific platforms. It’s been a major reason about why people might buy one console over another. We’re seeing more and more PlayStation games come to PC, like The Last of Us Part I and Spider-Man Remastered. Some have commented on the fact that Sony paid Square Enix a lot of money to not make Xbox versions of Final Fantasy. Last month in an article with Video Game Chronicle, Microsoft alleged that Sony pays devs enough to block Game Pass. Many have commented on the double standards. With Skill Up tweeting that Sony has “built an empire on the back of exclusive content”. We see this in particular with games from Japan. But it’s only now that they’re “very concerned about the impact of exclusive content”. 

This is an interesting set of events, and it’ll be fascinating to see where this goes. What do you think about this whole thing? Are we picking sides like it’s the console wars all over again, or do you not care? Let us know!