Sony Knew Call of Duty Was a Major Revenue Driver, But Still Didn’t See It as a Threat

In the ongoing FTC v Microsoft courtroom battle, we see something interesting everyday. Now, on day four, new emails have been revealed that show how Jim Ryan, the CEO of Sony, wasn’t particularly bothered by the Call of Duty aspect of the Microsoft-Activision deal.

We have previously covered how, in one email, Ryan told former Sony Europe president Christopher Deering that he believed the deal was “not an Xbox exclusivity play at all” and that he was “confident Call of Duty would remain on PlayStation for many years to come.

Deering agreed, saying that he thought the deal was “more of a King play than Call of Duty,” referring to King, the Candy Crush publisher which was acquired in 2016, and is one of Activision Blizzard’s three main businesses.

He said that King was acquired for around “$5 billion and has now grown to be worth £50 billion.” Looking at these numbers, the $68.7 billion figure doesn’t seem much. But, as far as COD was concerned, Deering didn’t believe that it would give Microsoft a lot in terms of comparative revenue.

King is a major player in the MS-ABK deal | Microsoft

He said:

If it was an Xbox exclusivity play, Spencer could have locked up MS console exclusivity for the next 3 COD releases for maybe £5 billion. If this was a play to end run PS5, et cetera, I think it was massively overvalued and will not meaningfully succeed. I guess MS can piss away that kind of valuation without being more harmed than helped, but I am not losing a wink of sleep over the future for our baby.”

Deering also said that Microsoft “would have been better off announcing a new electric car.” Well, how the tables have turned now…

Not only that but we have now repeatedly seen how Ryan’s comments are in contrast to his public statements about the deal, in which he has asserted that it would be harmful to competition and could lead to Call of Duty becoming an Xbox exclusive.

At this point, I don’t know why Ryan’s public statements have been so different from his private views. However, the emails suggest that he may not have been as concerned about Call of Duty as he has been letting on.

The emails also reveal that Sony is aware of how important Call of Duty is to its business. In another email, Ryan said that Call of Duty represented $800 million in PlayStation revenue in the US alone, and worldwide, it might amount to over $1.5 billion.

Ryan also said that Call of Duty players spend an average of 116 hours per year playing the game, and that those players spend an average of $15.9 billion per year on everything else they buy.

This is how much COD is worth to PS | Sony
Sony hasn't done a great job on redacting these documents, and so, you could make up most of the details that are apparently hidden.

If you look at these numbers alone, surely you can’t deny that Call of Duty is a major revenue driver for Sony, and that the company would be very reluctant to see it become an Xbox exclusive.

It remains to be seen whether the FTC will approve the Microsoft Activision deal. However, the emails that have been released so far suggest that Sony is not as concerned about the Call of Duty aspect of the deal as it has been letting on.

This is all we know for now, but rest assured that we will keep you updated as new information becomes available.


Muhammad Qasim

Qasim's deep love for technology and gaming drives him to not only stay up-to-date on the latest developments but also to share his informed perspectives with others through his writing. Whether through this or other endeavors, he is committed to sharing his expertise and making a meaningful contribution to the world of tech and gaming.