In a significant move that addresses concerns over anti-competitive practices, Microsoft and Sony have announced a binding agreement to ensure the popular Call of Duty franchise remains available on PlayStation consoles. The deal comes as Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard nears completion, raising fears that the tech giant would utilize its dominance in the gaming market to restrict access to Call of Duty exclusively on Xbox consoles.
The announcement, made on Sunday by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer on Twitter, confirmed the signing of a 10-year agreement between the two industry rivals. “We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and PlayStation have signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” Spencer tweeted, signaling a commitment to maintaining the availability of the highly successful gaming series on PlayStation platforms.
The potential acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft had drawn significant regulatory scrutiny globally, with concerns revolving around the tech giant’s potential monopolistic control over the gaming market. Such fears prompted Sony executives to express apprehension about the deal’s anti-competitive effects. However, the newly announced agreement is expected to assuage those concerns to some extent.
Neither Microsoft nor Sony disclosed the precise duration of the agreement, although a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed its long-term nature. The tech giant has a history of entering similar arrangements, indicating its commitment to fostering a competitive environment in the gaming industry.
Sony’s CEO of Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan, had expressed reservations about the proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition just last month, emphasizing the potential negative impact on competition during his recorded testimony in June. The latest agreement between Microsoft and Sony indicates an effort to address these concerns and maintain a level playing field for gaming enthusiasts.
Commenting on the development, Microsoft’s Vice Chair Brad Smith highlighted the company’s commitment to inclusivity, stating on Twitter, “even after a potential deal closes, Microsoft will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before.” This statement underscores Microsoft’s dedication to expanding the reach of the franchise, debunking fears of exclusivity.
While the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is not yet finalized, the prospects for its completion have improved following a federal appeals judge’s decision to block the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to temporarily halt the deal. The FTC had filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court in July, citing concerns of anti-competitive risks associated with the merger. However, the judge ruled in favor of allowing the transaction to proceed.
In May, regulators in the European Union approved the deal, while the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has expressed its willingness to negotiate with Microsoft regarding the terms of the acquisition. The two companies are striving to finalize the transaction by Tuesday, July 18, marking a potential milestone in the gaming industry.
The Microsoft-Sony agreement to keep Call of Duty accessible on PlayStation consoles demonstrates a collaborative effort between industry rivals to address concerns related to monopolistic practices. As gaming enthusiasts eagerly await the completion of the acquisition, the long-term availability of the renowned Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation consoles appears to be secured, ensuring continued excitement and enjoyment for millions of players worldwide.
The 10-year deal between Microsoft and Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles marks a significant step in promoting competition and consumer choice in the gaming industry. By addressing regulatory concerns about potential anti-competitive practices, both companies have demonstrated a commitment to fostering a fair gaming environment.
With the uncertainty surrounding the completion of the Activision Blizzard acquisition, the agreement serves as a show of good faith from Microsoft to avoid monopolizing the gaming market and to ensure that Call of Duty remains accessible to a wide range of gamers. The gaming community can look forward to continued opportunities to enjoy the blockbuster franchise on their preferred gaming platforms.
As the transaction approaches its finalization date, industry observers will keep a close eye on how the deal will unfold, and how both Microsoft and Sony will further collaborate to maintain a vibrant and diverse gaming landscape for players worldwide.