If the Activision Blizzard purchase goes through, Microsoft claims it has a 10-year deal with Nintendo to make Call of Duty available on Nintendo consoles. The agreement is comparable in length to what Microsoft granted Sony, and the maker of the Xbox has also agreed to keep releasing new Call of Duty iterations on Steam concurrently with their release on the Xbox.
Immediately following Microsoft President Brad Smith’s comments that “Sony has emerged as the loudest objector” to Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition and that “it’s as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix,” the deal is intended to put pressure on Sony to accept a comparable offer.
Microsoft confirmed earlier this week that it had offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new Call of Duty release available on PlayStation the same day it launches on Xbox. It’s a concession that has been hinted at recently, as regulators increase their scrutiny of Microsoft’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard. “Any day Sony wants to sit down and talk, we’ll be happy to hammer out a 10-year deal for PlayStation as well,” said Smith on Twitter shortly after the Nintendo deal announcement.
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer announced the Nintendo and Valve commitments late on Tuesday night, just ahead of a closed-door meeting at the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday. Microsoft president Brad Smith and other company executives are expected to meet with FTC chair Lina Khan and other commissioners today, according to a Bloomberg report.
Recent reports have suggested that the FTC is preparing a potential legal challenge to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal from happening. Microsoft is also facing regulatory scrutiny from the EU and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The software maker has pushed back on the CMA’s concerns though, describing them as “misplaced” and accusing the regulator of adopting “Sony’s complaints without considering the potential harm to consumers.”
Sony has been making it clear to regulators that it’s concerned about the future of Call of Duty, and a public back and forth between Microsoft and Sony, mixed with regulators airing their concerns has led to a recent 10-year commitment to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony labeled Microsoft’s initial offer to save Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several more years” beyond an existing marketing deal as “inadequate on many levels.” Sony hasn’t responded publicly to Microsoft’s latest 10-year offer.
The length of the deal doesn’t mean Call of Duty will suddenly disappear from PlayStation or even Nintendo consoles after 10 years. “It’s not about at some point I pull the rug underneath PlayStation 7’s legs and it’s ‘aha you just didn’t write the contract long enough,’” said Spencer in a recent Verge interview. “There’s no contract that could be written that says forever.”
In a statement to Kotaku, Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell made it clear that such a deal to keep Call of Duty on Steam isn’t necessary:
Microsoft offered and even sent us a draft agreement for a long-term Call of Duty commitment but it wasn’t necessary for us because a) we’re not believers in requiring any partner to have an agreement that locks them to shipping games on Steam into the distant future b) Phil and the games team at Microsoft have always followed through on what they told us they would do so we trust their intentions and c) we think Microsoft has all the motivation they need to be on the platforms and devices where Call of Duty customers want to be.
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