There is no doubt that Microsoft’s decision to pay $68.7 billion for Activision Blizzard has divided the gaming industry. Whether it is gamers or Xbox rivals, some welcome the news and others see the dangers of Microsoft monopolizing the market. One such concern is Activision IP’s like Call of Duty and Candy Crush, and their potential to be Xbox exclusives.
Sony this week said it expects Microsoft to honor current contracts that keep franchises like Call of Duty on other platforms. Microsoft has now moved to ease concerns and confirmed that it will indeed honor those deals.
Microsoft Gaming chief Phil Spencer says there are no plans to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation, and by implication we guess he means other major franchises like Diablo too:
“Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony,” Spencer says in a tweet. “I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.”
Of course, Spencer has been very clever with his wording, and I still have massive worries. At no point does he say Call of Duty will be on PlayStation after current contracts end. So, there is still potential for Microsoft to make the series exclusive to Xbox and Game Pass.
It is worth noting when Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7.5 billion two years ago, it promised franchises would remain cross-platform. Then, the first major Bethesda release in years, Starfield, became an Xbox/PC exclusive. Microsoft has also dropped enough hints to suggest The Elder Scrolls will be platform exclusive moving forward.
At the same time, Microsoft has kept Minecraft cross-platform and actively promotes the game as a cross-platform experience.
I am hugely pessimistic about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. I believe it gives the company too much power, too many major franchises. It is Microsoft throwing its weight around. Yes, it is strange calling Sony a minnow, but next to Microsoft it truly Microsoft is trying to remove its rival.
While Spencer’s commitment means Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation for now, I have serious doubts about the long-term future. I am trying not to be too dramatic, but it is hard not to see Microsoft as a looming cloud over the rest of the game industry.
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