The biggest news in the gaming industry continues to be Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which has the potential to shake up gaming for years to come. After their stock took a tumble on Wednesday following the announcement of the purchase, Sony didn’t waste much time trying to put their shareholders’ fears to rest.
“We expect that Microsoft will abide by contractual agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are multiplatform,” a Sony spokesperson said in a statement first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
It isn’t a surprise that Sony would want to remind Microsoft of these agreements. The Call of Duty series, published by Activision, are big hits for the PlayStation. In the US, Call of Duty: Vanguard was the top-selling game for the console while Black Ops Cold War charted third in the region. Call of Duty games are often released with bonus content exclusive to the PlayStation platform. The agreements for such deals usually cover multiple years and entries, so Sony will expect those agreements to be honored. Losing these titles would be a huge blow to Sony’s sales in the long term.
Microsoft is likely to uphold them in the immediate term, as they did with Deathloop last year following their acquisition of Bethesda. However, they have also said that future Bethesda games, like the long-promised The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield, will be exclusive to Xbox and PC platforms, so clearly, games without such exclusivity agreements are fair game.
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has gone on record to respond to these concerns, saying, “I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remain committed to that.” Of course, Spencer said something similar ahead of Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda, so it is questionable if he means it this time.
The fallout from this deal looks likely to continue into the weeks and months that follow, with anti-trust regulators still needing to look at the fine print and make sure it isn’t a cause for concern. DFI Intelligence has said that making Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive could be a sticking point, saying, “It would be hard to get it past regulators if they want to lock the competition out.” The deal isn’t expected to be completed until June 2023, so there will be plenty of time for the details to get hashed out.