Xbox boss says PlayStation should innovate if it’s worried about Call of Duty on Game Pass

Game Pass has been a real disruptor.

Image via Activision

There’s a lot to be said about Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion. It’s shone a spotlight on several controversial issues within Activision Blizzard, and it’s also drawn the ire of other companies on the business side of things. Chief among these is PlayStation, viewed as the main competitor to Xbox. In fact, it believes Xbox’s impending ownership of Call of Duty may influence console choice among consumers. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has begun addressing those concerns.

The Xbox boss appeared on First on CNBC to talk about the deal, where host Will Koulouris asked him about the pledge to keep Call of Duty available on PlayStation. As Koulouris points out, keeping the series as a $70 purchase on other platforms still makes it a lot less desirable than playing ‘for free’ via Game Pass. Spencer defends this by labeling Game Pass as an innovation. “When I look at something like Game Pass specifically, I think it’s the output of competition in our market,” he states. “We sat back and thought ‘how can we innovate and create value?’ We came up with a new model for customers building out their library of games, and gamers love it. I think that’s what competition is about.”

In a sense, it’s a challenge for PlayStation to make its own innovations to compete more closely with Game Pass. “Competition is about driving competitors to innovate, driving competitors to do new things like cloud, like subscriptions, like building new intellectual property,” Spencer continues. That’s what Xbox has been “focused on.” With Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch all slated for Game Pass, there’s certainly a lot for PlayStation to compete with.

The merging of PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now earlier this year is somewhat of a step in that direction. PlayStation also has a UK market regulator on its side, which could throw a wrench into Xbox’s plans.