Sony claims that Microsoft may release a broken Call of Duty for PlayStation

In its latest argument against the mega-merger, Sony is grasping at straws while saying that offering Call of Duty on PS Plus is "unviable."

The row between Microsoft, Activision Blizzard, and Sony is getting uglier. In a new development, Sony claims that Microsoft may release a broken version of Call of Duty for the PlayStation if it gains control of Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft may try to get around to fulfilling its commitment according to Sony.

Last month, the UK CMA published its provisional findings on Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The competition regulator raised concerns that Microsoft could opt to use a range of methods to stifle competition if the deal goes through.

According to the UK CMA, Microsoft could withhold games or content from Sony, offer fewer features, or degrade the quality of titles released on rival consoles, namely PlayStation. The antitrust watchdog suggests that one way to ensure that there is no substantial reduction of competition is to block the deal in its entirety or exclude Call of Duty from being part of the merger.

The UK CMA stated in its report that it may consider behavioral remedies such as Microsoft’s offer for a ten-year legally enforceable licensing deal to make Call of Duty available on rival platforms. However, the regulatory body views these remedies as less favorable than structural changes to the proposed acquisition. Altering the deal would require no monitoring and enforcement once finalized.

UK CMA suggests that Microsoft sell off the Call of Duty IP to exclude it from the deal.

Sony said in its published response that the merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard should be blocked or be subjected to structural remedies if approved. The console maker said that behavioral remedies may be insufficient to address competition concerns. According to Sony, there are "myriad ways Microsoft could withhold or degrade access [which] would be extremely difficult to monitor and police."

"If Microsoft failed to comply with its commitment, it would likely only risk paying a fine (possibly many years later). But rivals’ access to Call of Duty would be immediately foreclosed, irreparably damaging their ability to compete and ultimately harming consumers," Sony said.

Sony claims that Microsoft could choose to release buggy or broken Call of Duty games to circumvent its obligations, saying:

Swiftly detecting any diversions from, and ensuring compliance with, a commitment as to technical or graphical quality would be challenging.

For example, Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty."

Microsoft could lessen competition by releasing an inferior or buggy version of the game on the PlayStation.

According to Sony, Call of Duty games are typically purchased in the first weeks of release. If the version of the game on PlayStation is worse than Xbox, gamers may opt to switch to Xbox "for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue."

Sony adds, "Even if Microsoft operated in good faith, it would be incentivised to support and prioritise development of the Xbox version of the game, such as by using its best engineers and more of its resources. There would be no practical way for the CMA (or SIE) to monitor how Microsoft chooses to allocate its resources and the quality/quantity of engineers it devotes to the PlayStation version of Call of Duty, to ensure that SIE would be treated fairly and equally."

Microsoft offered Sony a ten-year licensing deal to keep the Call of Duty series available for PlayStation gamers. The company said the deal ensures full content and feature parity with the Xbox version. Microsoft adds that it is prepared to appoint a third-party assessor to ensure that it does not stray from its commitment during the ten-year period.

Sony has so far refused to accept the deal with Microsoft.

Darryl Lara

Darryl has been gaming since the early 90s, loves to read books and watch TV. He spends his free time outside of gaming and books by riding his motorcycle and taking photographs. You can find Darryl on Instagram. Check him out on Steam and Xbox too.
Comparison List (0)