Microsoft has reportedly offered Sony a deal to ensure Call of Duty appears on their PS Plus subscription service. This is in addition to their recent offer to ensure Call of Duty is on PlayStation for ten years. It is the same deal that Microsoft made with Nintendo and Steam.
Sony has yet to respond to either pending agreement. They have rebuffed prior offers, including Microsoft allowing Call of Duty to release on PlayStation consoles for at least three years. However, Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, has said, “as long as there’s a PlayStation, we’ll ship Call of Duty there.”
Jim Ryan, PlayStation CEO, isn’t buying it. “We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience,” he said recently, “and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle.”
This is the latest move in the ongoing saga regarding Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard. The deal will not finalize until Q3 2023 at the earliest.
The report, courtesy of Bloomberg, would officially give PlayStation the right to sell the wildly popular FPS franchise on their PlayStation Plus subscription service.
Sony’s long-standing argument against the deal pertains to Microsoft controlling the rights to Call of Duty. The Japanese company states that no one can compete with Call of Duty. Other publishers disagreed, saying they could or that Sony already has strong franchises under their umbrella.
Another Possible Roadblock for the Microsoft – Activision Deal
Earlier this month, the FTC announced its intentions to block the pending Microsoft – Activision merger.
“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”
The FTC referenced Microsoft refusing to honor a commitment to the EU to release Bethesda games on multiple platforms. It was later discovered that such an agreement was not made. Another critical issue in the eyes of the FTC is the potential curbing of healthy competition in the gaming landscape.
“With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises,” they say, “Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers.”
Sony began the current console generation by raising the price of PlayStation 5 games from $60 to $70. Microsoft recently announced that, after two years, they are following suit.
Phil Spencer Is Still Optimistic That The Deal Will Get Approved
Despite the hurdles, Spencer still feels like the deal will go through. When speaking with the Same Brain podcast recently, he was asked how the deal will play out.
“We’re in the regulatory process right now, “Spencer replied, “which means we don’t have any decision-making or any authority over what Activision is doing…We expect this will close in this fiscal year for Microsoft in June. I’m pretty confident in the deal closing, I’m spending time with regulators, I think they’re doing a good job asking questions.”
Call of Duty is also confirmed to appear on Game Pass should the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard be approved. Additionally, games like Diablo IV, which will release June 6th, 2023, will appear on Xbox Game Pass.