Microsoft has pledged to keep Call of Duty and other Activision Blizzard games on PlayStation and other rival platforms, event beyond the existing content agreements that are currently in place.
The commitment comes in a lengthy blog post targeted directly at government regulators that are currently looking at various digital storefronts and business practices, as well as evaluating the numerous big tech company acquisitions that are being fired off.
Speaking specifically about the $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition that it’s reported will be appraised by the FTC, Microsoft is attempting to stave off any concerns that this should be an anti-trust concern.
“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. The obvious concern is that Microsoft could make this title available 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 so that Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love. We are also interested in taking similar steps to support Nintendo’s successful platform. We believe this is the right thing for the industry, for gamers and for our business.”
Of course, this statement doesn’t definitively and explicitly state that mainline Call of Duty games will stay on PlayStation, nor pledge to have Diablo 5, Overwatch 3 and whatever else Blizzard cooks up come to Sony’s console, but the spirit of the blog suggests that this is Microsoft’s intention. We’ll see how deeply the FTC and other regulators interrogate this issue, but expect it to remain a talking point.
This would be similar to what is expected from Sony’s acquisition of Bungie, with the Destiny developer set to continue to self-publish its games and have them remain a multiplatform company.
Microsoft has still used the blog as a way to put some pressure on their rivals, though. With regulators looking into app stores and competition, Microsoft has published seven app store principles that currently pertain to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10, opening up the storefront to more app types and developers, and removing any requirement for developers to use a Microsoft-controlled payment method. This policy was put into place last year, putting pressure on Apple’s efforts to maintain control of the iOS App Store.
This, despite Microsoft state that “Gaming consoles, specifically, are sold to gamers at a loss to establish a robust and viable ecosystem for game developers. The costs are recovered later through revenue earned in the dedicated console store.” For that reason, they’re only bringing some of the principles they outline to the Xbox store, but promise to “close the gap” on things like letting developers use their own payment methods in the future, and work in the spirit of new laws.