Ever since it acquired Activision, Microsoft has been quick to reassure gamers that Call of Duty wouldn’t suddenly become an Xbox-exclusive series. However, up until now, the language that the company used suggested that there might be an expiration date on the franchise’s multiplatform status. Shooter fans on the PS5 need no longer worry, however, as Microsoft has just released a much longer and more comprehensive statement on the topic. Not only will Microsoft honor its agreements with Sony beyond the terms of its current contract, but the Xbox manufacturer may also be courting Nintendo for a similar arrangement.
To learn the full story, check out Microsoft’s long and winding blog post entitled "Adapting ahead of regulation: a principled approach to app stores (opens in new tab)." In it, Brad Smith president and vice chair of Microsoft, discusses how the company will cooperate with regulators in order to make sure that its Activision acquisition doesn’t run into any legal trouble. To distill a long explanation down to its basics, Smith argues that by keeping apps available across a wide range of platforms, and being as transparent as possible about the process, Microsoft shouldn’t run afoul of any antitrust rules.
While Call of Duty availability isn’t the crux of the post, Smith does devote about two paragraphs to the topic. His commentary makes the situation pretty clear:
"Some commentators have asked whether we will continue to make popular content like Activision’s Call of Duty available on competing platforms like Sony’s PlayStation," he said. "The obvious concern is that Microsoft could make this title availability exclusively on the Xbox console, undermining opportunities for Sony PlayStation users
"To be clear, Microsoft will continue to make Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available on PlayStation through the term of any existing agreement with Activision. And we have committed to Sony that we will also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future."
Granted, a blog post isn’t legally binding, and the language leaves plenty of wiggle room. Nowhere does Smith guarantee that every single Call of Duty will come out on PS5, nor does he guarantee that the PS5 version will have perfect parity with the Xbox version. Still, the overall message is clear: Activision titles, including Call of Duty, will generally remain available on PlayStation, even after the current agreement between Sony and Activision expires.
Potentially even more interesting is that Microsoft is eager to work with Nintendo as well.
"We are also interested in taking similar steps to support Nintendo’s successful platform," Smith added to his previous comments. "We believe this is right for the industry, for gamers and for our business."
Whether this means Microsoft wants to put Call of Duty, specifically, on Switch, isn’t clear. After all, Activision Blizzard publishes many games beyond just Call of Duty, and some of them are already on Switch — Overwatch and Crash Bandicoot, for example. But the bottom line is clear: Microsoft wants to keep working with Sony and Nintendo and seems to want Activision games available on as many platforms as possible.
Of course, this is all dependent on U.S. authorities authorizing Microsoft’s Activision purchase. We’ll know for sure within the next year.