Wow! This is really freakin’ spicy, to say the least! Earlier this week, Microsoft bigwig Phil Spencer publicly revealed that his company had provided a “signed agreement” to Sony that would guarantee Call of Duty remains on PlayStation consoles for “several more years” beyond the Japanese giant’s current marketing arrangement with Activision Blizzard.
It was, at the time, assumed that the PlayStation maker had signed – but Sony suit Jim Ryan has bitten back, describing the offer as “inadequate”. In a popcorn-inducing statement sent to Games Industry.biz, the executive explained that he “hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion” but he feels the “need to set the record straight because Phil Spencer brought this into the public forum”.
He said: “Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends. After almost 20 years of Call of Duty on PlayStation, their proposal was inadequate on many levels and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers. We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle.”
Microsoft is currently trying to convince regulators that it should be allowed to follow through with its eye-watering $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and a big sticking point for some governments – including the UK – appears to be what the future holds for the Call of Duty franchise. Previously, the Redmond firm had compared its proposed handling of the first-person shooter series to multiformat franchise Minecraft, but this story potentially sheds a slightly different light on its plans.
In a post published earlier this year, Microsoft’s Brad Smith said “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”. He added: “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.”
Then in a follow-up statement published less than a week ago, Spencer reiterated: “We've heard that this deal might take franchises like Call of Duty away from the places where people currently play them. That's why, as we've said before, we are committed to making the same version of Call of Duty available on PlayStation on the same day the game launches elsewhere. We will continue to enable people to play with each other across platforms and across devices. We know players benefit from this approach because we've done it with Minecraft, which continues to be available on multiple platforms and has expanded to even more since Mojang joined Microsoft in 2014.”
Judging by his response, it would appear that Jim Ryan is less trusting of Microsoft’s word.