Microsoft and Sony have struck a deal that sees the former agree to keep the Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation rather than make it an Xbox exclusive.
"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," Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming CEO, tweeted. "We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games."
So die hard PlayStation fans can breathe easy knowing that Call of Duty won’t become an Xbox exclusive, despite concerns that could happen as part of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which publishes Call of Duty games as well as many other big franchises, including a little game called World of Warcraft.
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. We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games.July 16, 2023
For a moment it was looking like the Microsoft acquisition was going to be blocked by the US Federal Trade Commission due to concerns over anti-competitive behavior. But Microsoft defeated the regulator in court. Now all the Redmond company needs to do is win over the United Kingdom's Markets and Competition Authority (CMA), which is opposed to the deal; the legal battle is on pause as the two are looking to negotiate a compromise.
Details of the agreement weren’t touted by Spencer, but Xbox head of global communication Kari Perez told The Verge that it is a 10-year-long deal. So in a decade’s time, Xbox could finally have exclusive rights to Call of Duty. Though I personally don’t foresee that to be the case, as Sony will likely come to a new agreement, or maybe Call of Duty could wither from being the multi-billion dollar franchise it is.
Legal wrangling aside, in the here and now the net result of this decision means that PS5 players won’t be left out in the cold when the next Call of Duty game invariable arrives. And subscribers of Xbox Game Pass will likely get to play Call of Duty as part of their subscription, rather than needing to pay for the game separately; this is just educated speculation on my part rather than fact, however.
For the players?
Ever since Microsoft bought Bethesda and its associated studios, there has been a niggling concern that many big-name games would become Xbox exclusives, thereby letting the console compete with the PlayStation brand that’s been established for longer.
In some ways, this has happened with the likes of Redfall being an Xbox exclusive, and Starfield coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PCs only. However, when Microsoft bought the behemoth that is Minecraft in 2014, it did not make the building game Xbox or PC exclusive; in fact, it spread Minecraft to other platforms.
So time will tell if Microsoft uses its acquisitions to force people to become Xbox players, or if it will take a more platform-agnostic approach. My prediction is that outside of games that Microsoft has had a direct influence in making, or massive new IPs like Starfield, it will keep big franchises available on multiple consoles and platforms. After all, even if the next Call of Duty sells massively more on PlayStation than Xbox, Microsoft will still reap the revenue benefits.