Microsoft has offered Sony a deal that's almost too good to be true--a deal that could assuage regulators as they closely investigate the enormity of Activision merger.
According to new reports from the New York Times, Microsoft has offered Sony a deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for at least 10 years. This deal, which Sony probably won't accept (or publicly admit that it has accepted) during the ongoing regulatory investigations, would effectively guarantee Call of Duty games on the PlayStation platform until 2032. That's a hell of a deal from a company who had originally wanted to only guarantee 3 years of access to Call of Duty.
Quoting the NYT:
Microsoft said that on Nov. 11 it offered Sony a 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony declined to comment on the offer.
Why is this such a big deal? It shows Microsoft is willing to offer a long-term, meaningful deal to Sony and address one of the most contentious points of the merger. It also puts Sony in a tight position--do they accept the deal and undermine their position on the merger, which argues that the deal would reduce competition and access for consumers?
Microsoft's messaging around the merger has become much more confident and it's likely because of pressure from regulators. Xbox had originally delivered vague comments about Call of Duty's availability on PlayStation, but after the CMA and the European Commission both raised concerns about access to the $31 billion Call of Duty franchise, Microsoft became much confident and clear-cut in its statements on the merger.
- UK regulators issue phase 2 investigation on Microsoft-Activision merger
- European Commission regulators issue phase 2 investigation into Activision buyout
In public interviews, Xbox's Phil Spencer has previously said on three separate occasions that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation.
"[We intend to offer] native Call of Duty on PlayStation, not linked to them having to carry Game Pass or streaming," Spencer said in an interview with Decoder.
"There's nothing behind my back. Native on the platform, not having to subscribe to Game Pass. Sony does not have to take Game Pass on their platform to make that happen. There's nothing hidden. We want to continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation."
"We're not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation. That's not our intent our intent is not to do that. As long as there's a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we'd continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation similar to what we've done with Minecraft," Spencer said in an episode of the Same Brain podcast.
"Our plan is that Call of Duty, specifically, would be available on PlayStation," Spencer said in a WSJ Live interview.
"This franchise will continue to ship on PlayStation natively. It's not a plan that, okay we're going to bait and switch somebody where they have to play on the cloud, or that in 2 or 3 years we're going to pull the games,"
"Our intent is that we would continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation as long as that makes sense. As long as...Tech is always at some point in a transition."