Microsoft has reached a major victory in the battle for Activision Blizzard’s acquisition. The tech giant announced that it had signed an agreement with Nintendo to allow Call of Duty on its consoles over a period of 10 years.
Microsoft Gaming boss Phil Spencer said that he had also reached a similar agreement with Valve, guaranteeing Call of Duty’s availability on Steam, simultaneously with Xbox, for another decade if the merger goes ahead.
Microsoft has committed to bringing Call of Duty back to life for 10 years. @NintendoThe merger of Microsoft with Activision Blizzard King has been completed. Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people – however they choose to play. @ATVI_AB
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 7, 2022
Sony is under pressure from the deals, for which it has been appealing to regulators in U.S.A., U.K. and E.U. The merger worth $70 billion was blocked on anti-competitive grounds. Sony’s argument has rested to a great degree on its fears that Microsoft could make the massively popular Call of Duty series exclusive to Xbox, giving it a competitive advantage against Sony’s PlayStation consoles.
Microsoft repeatedly denies that it will do so, stating it wouldn’t make economic sense and pointing out the example of MinecraftSince its 2014 acquisition of Mojang, a developer from Mojang, it’s kept Call of Duty available for download on PlayStation 3 and all other platforms. The company then stated that it offered Sony Call of Duty for 10 years on PlayStation.
Sony has not commented or taken up this offer. It would harm its chances with regulators. But the closure of similar deals with such major industry players as Nintendo and Valve lends considerable weight to Microsoft’s case, and puts pressure on Sony to accept Microsoft’s commitments in good faith — something Spencer alluded to in an interview with the Washington Post.
“The things I’ve heard and seen written in the press is maybe some intent on our side when we make public commitments to Sony, that our private commitments are untenable or don’t work for partners, or for Sony specifically,” Spencer said. “Maybe some aura gets put around our words that maybe they’re not genuine, [but] when you have a company like Nintendo or a company like Valve believing in the commitment, and reaching agreement with Nintendo on something like this, we think it’s an important point to have out in the market.”
There’s no date set for when Call of Duty would first arrive on Switch; Microsoft hopes to close the Activision Blizzard deal in June 2023, but “you can imagine if [the deal] closed on that date, starting to do development work to make that happen would likely take a little bit of time,” Spencer said. He stated that the ultimate goal is to have new Call of Duty titles arrive on Nintendo as soon as possible, along with Xbox, PlayStation and PC. This was despite concerns about whether Switch may not be powerful enough for such games. “From how you get games onto Nintendo, how you run a development team that is targeting multiple platforms, that’s experience we have,” he said. One solution is to make Call of Duty available on Switch as a cloud streaming title, like Capcom did with. Resident Evil Village(Example:
Call of Duty isn’t often associated with Nintendo consoles, although several entries in the series did make their way to Wii and even Wii U. If Microsoft does succeed in closing its deal and bringing Call of Duty back to Nintendo, it would be for the first time since 2013’s Ghosts, Call of DutyWii U. 2022’s Modern Warfare 2 – Call of Duty is the first game in the series to launch on Steam since 2017’s WW2It has proved to be a huge success there.
Recent reporting suggests that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is “likely” to make a legal challenge to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. With the FTC due to meet to discuss the deal on Dec. 8, the effective signatures of approval from Nintendo and Valve — two of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in gaming, Sony aside — are timely, to say the least.
What these 10-year deals do not guarantee is the availability of Call of Duty and other Activision Blizzard games to subscription services other than Microsoft’s own Game Pass. Sony has argued — quite persuasively, it must be said — that Microsoft could effectively kill competition in gaming subscriptions, where it is already the market leader, by making Call of Duty and other Activision Blizzard heavyweights like Diablo exclusive to Game Pass.
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