Xbox has been in the process of purchasing Activision Blizzard since January 2022. The deal would mean that Microsoft would have control over games such as Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk, and of course Call of Duty. The last one has been the biggest point of contention with PlayStation as they have suggested that Microsoft would be willing to do anything to harm PlayStation and other competitors. The complaints range from accusing Microsoft of releasing a worse version of Call of Duty on PlayStation to Microsoft refusing to put Call of Duty on PlayStation and making it an Xbox exclusive.
These arguments do not make much sense and need to be addressed, first, let’s focus on the issue of making Call of Duty an Xbox console exclusive. The first issue with this claim is that Call of Duty already has a large active player base on PlayStation, in part due to Sony’s prior deal with Activision Blizzard to be the exclusive marketing partner which is another point of contention for Sony. If Microsoft were to make Call of Duty an Xbox console exclusive then they would risk losing a large amount of revenue on their largest acquisition in history, this wouldn’t make sense for Microsoft as they will want to make a profit as soon as possible. Another issue with this argument is that Microsoft has already signed multiple deals with companies such as Nintendo, Valve, and Nvidia to bring these games to their platforms and has also publicly stated their intention to make a deal with Sony which they have so far refused as of the release of this article. These points make it clear that it wouldn’t be in Microsoft’s best interest to keep Call of Duty as a console exclusive and the deals they have signed show that this is not their intention.
The second argument is that Microsoft could release a worse version of Call of Duty on PlayStation in an attempt to try and damage the PlayStation reputation, however, this simply has no merit as the people who are blamed for bad game releases are not the console manufacturers themselves and is instead the developer of the game. This implication that a bug filled release of Call of Duty on PlayStation would be considered by Microsoft is simply a fabrication as Sony themselves have been on the other side of this in recent weeks and know how this would play out. On the 23rd of March Sony released “The Last of Us Part 1” on PC and due to the bugs at release, people have so far reviewed the game negatively and the game currently has mixed reviews on Steam, with the blame being placed on PlayStation studio Naughty Dog and not Microsoft, the maker of the Windows platform, showing that this argument is without merit.
In recent weeks however, it has started to look like governments have started to look at these arguments in an objective light as competition watchdogs such as the UK’s CMA and the European Commission have both implied that they are likely to give Microsoft the green light to close their acquisition. They are expected to close their investigations and publish their final reports on the April 26th and the May 22nd respectively, so we won’t have much longer to wait before we find out if the acquisition will go through or not. Microsoft’s biggest hurdle at this time is the US FTC, who are currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Microsoft over the acquisition and may try to block the deal in court, with the first hearing being scheduled for August this year.
The future of this deal is currently unknown but as time goes on it looks more and more likely that Microsoft will succeed in their purchase and with the lack of a deal between Microsoft and Sony the future of Call of Duty on PlayStation is currently up in the air as its currently unknown if Sony will let Microsoft release the game on their console after the acquisition is complete, regardless of Microsoft’s willingness to do so.