Microsoft’s bid to acquire Activision Blizzard has hit a snag with both the UK and EU commencing an in-depth investigation on the merger. The intense scrutiny of the acquisition will delay its finalization by a significant amount of time.
The investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard was done mainly from a competition and consumer standpoint. Separately, Sony is concerned that Microsoft intends to make the Call of Duty franchise an exclusive title. The move would alienate fans of the game that do not own a Microsoft console or PC.
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer is now settling the issue of the Call of Duty franchise being an exclusive title. Speaking on The Verge’s Decoder podcast, Spencer said that he is open to making a long-term commitment to allow Sony access to the franchise.
"This idea that we would write a contract that says the word ‘forever’ in it, I think, is a little bit silly. But to make a longer-term commitment that Sony would be comfortable with, [that] regulators would be comfortable with, I have no issue with that at all," Spencer stated.
Microsoft has previously said that it is willing to work with the regulators for the deal to be approved. This statement from Spencer is a clear concession that should satisfy Sony, the UK’s CMA, and the EU Commission.
Spencer also clarified that his statements had no loopholes or tricks. "We think Call of Duty will be on PlayStation as long as players want to play Call of Duty on PlayStation. And that’s not a competitive threat against PlayStation, that’s just a pragmatic way of looking at it," Spencer said.
Spencer also added that the game would be released natively on the Sony console and not streamed via cloud gaming. "Native Call of Duty on PlayStation, not linked to them having to carry Game Pass. If they want a streaming version of Call of Duty we could do that as well, just like we do on our own consoles. There is nothing behind my back."
Fans have recently been wary of a Microsoft concession stating that the company may force Sony to carry the Xbox Game Pass as part of the deal to keep Call of Duty as a cross-platform title.
Microsoft's Xbox chief has settled the Call of Duty on PlayStation debate once and for all. Appearing on The Verge's Decoder podcast, Spencer says he's open to "a longer term commitment that Sony would be comfortable with." Full details here: https://t.co/vqJLEFKEap pic.twitter.com/of1t42LhKO
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) November 15, 2022
"It is the Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, doing great on PlayStation, doing great on Xbox, the next game, the next, next, next game, the next, next… native, on the platform, not having to subscribe to Game Pass," Spencer adds. "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, without any kind of weird ‘aha, I figured out the gotcha’."
Sony is not relenting in its position at this point, however, stating, "By giving Microsoft control of Activision games like Call of Duty, this deal would have major negative implications for gamers and the future of the gaming industry."
A Microsoft spokesperson fired back at Sony’s statement. "It makes zero business sense for Microsoft to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation given its market-leading console position."
Despite the issues, Microsoft is confident that the deal will push through. The UK and EU regulators have until March to finalize their decision on the matter.