After months of drama and resistance from Sony, Microsoft and Sony have finally reached an agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation after the proposed acquisition.
Both Microsoft and Sony had been negotiating for over a year to reach an agreement that would be mutually beneficial. Today, Xbox announced that the companies had reached a “binding agreement” that would allow both companies to achieve their goals.
The details of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but it is reportedly expected to include provisions that would ensure that Call of Duty games continue to be developed for PlayStation consoles for a considerable time to come.
Sony’s initial resistance to the deal was seen as an attempt to delay the acquisition and cause damage to Microsoft, and for a good reason too.
Sony’s Initial Opposition Was Based on Fears of Losing Competitive Edge
Let’s roll back to January 2022, when Microsoft first publicly acknowledged that it intended to acquire Activision Blizzard. Just a week after, Sony intervened, saying that it feared that Microsoft would make Activision games exclusive to its own platform.
In February, The Federal Trade Commission was put in charge of reviewing the deal, and Sony continued to raise objections. During the FTC hearing last month, private documents were also uncovered that showed what was happening behind the scenes.
We know from these that at the very start, in Jan 2022, Ryan had actually sought assurance from Spencer that Call of Duty would, in fact stay on PlayStation. More so, in August 2022, Microsoft sent an email to Sony listing all the games that would not be removed from PlayStation, but Sony was still not satisfied.
Later, in November 2022, Microsoft had revealed that it offered Sony a 10-year contract to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation, but Sony had backed out, citing that it feared that Microsoft would sabotage the PS version of the game, and isn’t taking into account the effect on gamers.
Microsoft, on the other hand, argued that it intended to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several more years” than Sony’s current contract with Activision, which would end in 2024.
Things took a turn when, in February 2023, Jim Ryan met Activision CEO, Bobby Kotick and told him that wants the deal blocked. Ryan confirmed this in his testimony to the FTC. What is interesting is that Sony had repeatedly made Call of Duty the baseline for its objections to the deal, even though Jim Ryan himself was not concerned about Call of Duty’s exclusivity.
From all these events, one thing is for sure, that Sony was worried about losing its competitive edge in the gaming market, and its opposition had little to do with the exclusivity aspect, and more to do with the competitive nature of the deal.
However, now that an agreement is reached, it will ensure that Call of Duty will continue to be available on PlayStation consoles for years to come. The game is a major revenue driver for Sony (also uncovered during FTC’s trial), generating over $1.5 billion annually.
This is all we know for now, but rest assured that we will keep you updated as new information becomes available.