A big point of contention over Microsoft’s stumbling $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is whether Call of Duty becoming exclusive would negatively impede PlayStation’s ability to compete in the console space. While regulators have, ultimately, determined cloud streaming is a larger issue – specifically in the UK where the deal has been blocked, but also in Europe where remedies have been enforced – it does remain a topic of conversation.
Specifically, in a speech this week, the European Commission's executive vice president Margrethe Vestager commented on the prospect of Call of Duty becoming an exclusive should the acquisition close. “I’m told Call of Duty is a very popular shooter franchise, but we found that Microsoft would probably not shoot itself in the foot by stopping sales of Call of Duty games to the much larger PlayStation player base,” she explained.
To be fair, Microsoft has offered PlayStation a ten year commitment to continue releasing the franchise on PS5, PS4, and any subsequent systems the Japanese giant may release throughout the course of the contract. Sony, to our knowledge, has not yet signed that deal, however – and it’ll probably hold its ground while UK regulators remain a thorn in the acquisition’s side.
Vestager pointed out that, in Europe at least, the PS5 is outselling the Xbox Series X|S by a ratio of 4:1, so she doesn’t believe Microsoft can ignore the sizeable install base of Sony’s system. Of course, we would have argued the same for a title like Starfield as well, although we totally appreciate the latest from Bethesda Game Studios simply can’t compete with a juggernaut like Call of Duty. As for what this means for some of Activision Blizzard’s smaller franchises, like Crash Bandicoot, remains unclear.
We’ve had a bit of respite from this whole ordeal of late, although the acquisition was recently approved in China. Microsoft has appealed to the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal in an effort to get Britain’s regulator to reconsider, but the clock is now ticking on this sorry saga, and if proceedings drag on for much longer, the trillion dollar Redmond firm may need to renegotiate with Activision Blizzard to extend the deal’s deadline – or pull out entirely.
[source ec.europa.eu, via eurogamer.net, thegamer.com]
It's worth remembering that if the deal doesn't go through, MS have to pay AB 3Billion as a consequence.
The operating annual profit of MS in the UK is 300Million.
Not small change of course but it's worth bearing these numbers in mind if the UK is going to be the ONLY country in the world that stands against the deal.
But why wouldn't they, it's not like they are short on cash that it would harm them as much as it would harm Sony.
Microsoft losing a billion by not releasing on playstation is nothing to them, just pocket change if you look at their earnings, they even had £100 billion spare to spend on acquisitions. The EU are seriously underestimating Microsoft.
They say that, but…
@UltimateOtaku91 Yeah I must admit I did also think if they're spending $69 billion on the deal they can afford to lose the PlayStation money while they try to squeeze Sony out of the console market.
But they have committed to the ten year thing, so at least in the short term, it's not going to happen. I agree, though, I wouldn't be quite as confident as the EU appear to be.
Did the check from Microsoft cash before or after they said this? What a joke lol
Personally can't wait until this is done. They will get it through in some form in both the US and the UK, and then maybe both sides will actually get back to actually putting time into games.
Removed - unconstructive
Microsoft absolutely would do this! Especially since Sony has made it hell for them during this buyout. It would help XBOX, but not to the point of them beating PlayStation.
They’re shooting themselves in the foot by not releasing any new Bethesda IP on PlayStation, although Redfall being cancelled on PlayStation was a blessing in disguise.
And yeah, Microsoft has cash for days, they wouldn’t even feel the financial loss by putting CoD on only Xbox or PC.
A surprising amount of naivete and trust from the usually strict EU. I guess they are more happy to collect the fines in a decade when MS pull a MS.
I also wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to prove that they are more business friendly than the UK.
Sure, sure, EU.
They're either extremely naive or bought.
@naruball why can’t it be both?
People keep talking about this but it's the Bethesda acquisition that's worrisome. It's all fun and games till ES6, Starfield, Fallout 5, Dishonored release with high scores on Xbox only. Fack this one game CoD.
it's a shame they haven't put some serious consideration into The number of games that could potentially decline in quality by the MS takeover for their continents gamers. I mean MS killed their biggest Franchise in Halo and most of the development Studio in less than 2 years This Gen alone.
Microsoft will buy ABK and will not remove COD from PS for at least decade.
Riiiiiiight. They’ll take COD away from Sony as soon as they can. Make no mistake - that’s what this whole purchase was about to begin with. If I were Sony, I’d get busy (like a year ago!) on creating a new military FPS franchise to compete w COD and make it typical Sony exclusive quality good.
"Xbox wouldn't shoot itself in the foot by yanking Call of Duty off of PlayStation. -EU
I'm sure they wouldn't shoot themselves in the foot by doing that. If they chose to do it, it would be a calculated move to sacrfice some of Microsoft's pocket change to severely damage a rival.
The problem is, a company with as much money and power as Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to keep buying more and gain more power to CHOOSE to damage rivals on a whim or not. Empty ten-year deals won't stop that. The CMA is the only regulator that got it right so far.
@Renegade_master They should’ve stopped making Halo when Bungie left. But Halo is another example of Microsoft being unable to even come up with their own original IPs and having to buy them as Halo was in development for Apple before Microsoft bought Bungie.
I'm sure that they would only have to release the base game on Playstation, with limited DLC which gradually reduces over the 10 years.
You want the full experience, buy an Xbox.
10 years worth of console sales, maybe 2 gens, can really chip away at Sonys current lead.
I expect there are lots that would switch based on Call of Duty alone.
After the PlayStation Showcase, I understand why Jim is afraid of losing CoD…
If Sony had signed the agreement then they would have guaranteed 10 years. I can see Microsoft screwing them over if they don't.
It's all about the long term implications with this COD exclusive or not business. Let's pretend for bit that Phil Spencer is just the nicest CEO that ever CEO'ed and is totally honest about his intentions to keep COD multi-platform. He isn't going to be in his position forever. Leadership changes happen all the time and when new leaders step in 9 times out of 10 they like to do something that separates them from their predecessor. Who's to say Phil's successor won't wish to play nice at all?
It's not really very difficult to see COD going Xbox exclusive some day. Microsoft is willing to take on a workplace culture nightmare and pay $70 billion for some highly recognizable IP and a mobile gaming juggernaut while also looking like complete fools throughout the entire process. Making COD exclusive doesn't seem that extreme really. You don't spend $70 billion to be nice. It's as simple as that.
MS would happily lose out on sales money to buy market share and have demonstrated this throughout their entire gaming history, thats not even debateable.
This statement demonstrates a worring lack of understanding of the facts, and a very naive understanding of how companies spend to secure market share.
Having made and completed their decision though, why are they still making such comments? Are they contractually obliged🤣 (jk)
Microsoft lies all the time and they will pull it from playstation.
EU: "I’m told Call of Duty is a very popular shooter franchise"
This here plays right into my concerns that those assessing this deal don't understand the gaming industry and the impact this will have.
Also the seemingly blind trust in Microsoft to do as they say seems naive at best
@pip_muzz That is interesting.. I am suprised the OP is that low in the UK, def boosts the idea that it could be more cost effective to just bypass the UK market if they can push the deal through. They run most of the UK stuff out of Ireland (EU) anyways so they could sort something out. Only time will tell how the CMA will fare under the fire.
A few years ago people woulda said Microsoft would also never risk releasing a subpar Halo game, their prime IP, but look how they openly and willingly bungled Halo Infinite in multiple ways. There is no limit to their incompetence.
Say what you will about Sony's communication and future, we have no clue how the future IPs and service titles will do. But Microsoft has a proven track record of settling on releasing less than AAA-tier experiences over and over.
Microsoft is TOTALLY gonna screw over the vast majority of these ActiBlizzard IPs. If they have proven ANYTHING in recent years it's that their hits/successes are the outliers. They continually mismanage their studios/IPs and continually shoot themselves in the foot. It's they who turned themselves into the third place console maker, not anyone else.
I have a STRONG feeling they are aware of that fact and will do whatever it takes to bring their competition down with them, simply because they have the cash to burn. If it hurts Sony, it's a win for Microsoft. They don't have to improve their processes if they can just screw over their competition.
@DETfaninATL "Create?" You mean... simply revive SOCOM? Or Killzone? Or Resistance? Or MAG?
They have LOADS of options. I don't think Sony thought this would ever get this far, to be honest. They saw it as a foregone conclusion it'd be blocked. Which was a mistake on their part. Likely more of that classic Sony hubris.
Have these guys never watched the Xbox One reveal?
Microsoft has a history of shooting itself in the foot with a shotgun.
@get2sammyb I don’t think it’s so much “how much money MS will lose if they make CoD Xbox console exclusive” and instead be “how much relevance will CoD lose if it becomes an Xbox console exclusive”.
Yes, MS likely can afford the losses, but they are much more likely to want to keep that gargantuan IP and GAAS model going full speed across the world.
Tldr: MS can afford the losses. Call of Duty itself can’t.
@Rob_230 This point entirely! If you dare brave Twitter its absolutely spammed with Xbot acolytes tweeting EU comments attacking the UK's CMA & conspiracies of conflicts of interest vs an EU Comission that has been far too willing to take Microsoft's PR "Ten year deals" as competition without looking at the bigger picture that none of the companies are in direct competition with Azure or Activision could be bothered with a Switch COD.
They just naively rubber stamped it as if the Zenimax Bethesda deal never happened & naively take their vague political promises at their word!🙄
The fact they've been spending their time since making attacks on the CMA & making nonsical repeats of Microsoft's narrative about "increased competition" when their history is anything but monopolistic us laughable!
A company that is willing to eat the development costs and game sales by offering its exclusives as a part of their subscription service wouldn’t take the loss of not releasing on PlayStation? And this is an organization that is supposed to protect consumers from monopolies? Okaaaaaaay.
@TheCollector316 only the CMA said they didn’t much care about the console side and even said they approve it for console but was worried about cloud. The 5% market place of cloud is the CMA’s decision. When Sony outsells Xbox 4-1 there isn’t 1 or 2 heck maybe not even 3 games that would knock Sony out of being competitive and profitable. Well outside of something crazy like a GTA, which won’t happen. Let’s say this deal doesn’t pass for ABK, then MS might counter and start spending money like Sony does for timed exclusives. I don’t see that as a much better win. But i don’t see the ABK deal effecting PlayStation much outside of America, where it might make them 50/50 as they aren’t far off from that now.
@Titntin i disagree and the reason is this is a new strategy for MS. This strategy is all about active users and money outside of Hardware and more software and services. Having COD on PS gives them all those active users, not to mention when MS wants to buy another studio or Dev that would be held against them that they promised 10 years and yanked it in 2-3. So they can’t really go back on that from a business perspective or it stunts further growth and will face more blocks and player backlash. So they are pretty much locked into this strategy, and it’s working cause MS has more active users right now than Sony and that’s with PS whipping Xbox’s butt on consoles. Add in the ABK active users and it will grow even further in favor of MS. They won’t mess that up just to pull a few million sales away from PS. No company is that dumb, not even MS.
It's almost cute that people still believe the whole purpose of the acquisition is to get CoD and wrest it away from Sony to end PlayStation. People can't get over their personal emotional ties to the product and look at the actual business and where the money comes from.
The purchase is for King. The purchase is to dig into mobile at full speed. The purchase is also for the PC properties from Blizzard, and to entrench Windows store more firmly in the PC landscape. The purchase is to acquire more major content to put on subscription without having to pay continuous licensing fees to publishers that don't even want to play ball with their subscription. As a happy coincidence the purchase also includes Call of Duty, which right now is making most of it's money from the F2P part of the series. If you look at ABK financials, King does the heavy lifting. Revenue - cost from King is more than twice the return CoD produces due to it's high cost of production, and CoD is one of the highest grossing series in gaming.
They're not buying ABK to destroy Playstation. They're not in the gaming industry to "beat" Playstation and be the #1 console. They're in the gaming industry to make mega money from the ultra profitable gaming business. And even as a near-monopoly, Playstation's total revenue is a tiny tiny fraction of the total gaming industry's revenue. MS is more than happy taking home 85% of the all-platform sales of one of the top 5 by revenue brands in gaming. Including selling it on PS. If Sony could boost profits 20% by publishing Uncharted on Xbox, they'd do it, too. Heck Sony originally didn't see Xbox as competition and intended to publish games on it when it launched until Ken Kutaragi had a fit and went full-console-warrior. Clearly his vision wasn't a great one by that point anyway. Imagine of the other PS heads at the time had their way, there would never nave been a PS-XB console war to begin with. That surely included Shu and Kaz, though neither of them have been quoted as to their stance on the issue at the time.
Not everything is a console war.
Hate how its all about call of duty. I don’t want to lose crash or spyro or Tony Hawk’s
@MFTWrecks I’m a HUGE fan of the Resistance series so I’d be all for having that come back, for SURE!! Killzone too - that was a great series as well. But there’s no denying that there’s a MASSIVE appeal and market for a ‘militaristic’ FPS, along the lines of COD, which neither of those series would really fill. I’ve never played SOCOM or MAG so I can’t comment on those. I just think they could come up with something altogether new and appealing.
@DETfaninATL Well, sure. Killzone and Resistance lean more scifi. They're more like direct competitors to Halo. SOCOM and MAG would be more direct military sim/pesudo sim that I'd say go more directly head to head with something like COD or even Rainbow Six.
SOCOM II multiplayer was fire back in the PS2 days.
I mean, did I expect that a country would leave an economic system that allowed it to play by the same rules as every other state while at the same time having a different and stronger (at the time) money unit? If that happened I don’t see why this couldn’t happen as well.
Microsoft strategy is to make the Xbox brand image stronger at any cost so it can be relevant by 2058.
@Renegade_master "The number of games that could potentially decline in quality"
ABK only makes like 3 or 4 games (CoD, Overwatch, WoW, and Diablo)... And most of these are already have massively declined in quality. At least under Microsoft, we could have still gotten the PvE for Overwatch. ABK is literally sitting on a bed of used IP especially all those unused Sierra Entertainment cause as soon as one of their studios makes something good... They are killed off to join the CoD and Blizzard mines.
"MS killed their biggest Franchise in Halo and most of the development Studio"
While it suck about what happened to Halo, I do not feel sorry for 343. They are directly to blame for the downfall of Halo and the studio need to have been killed off during the Xbox One generation. But if it have been nothing but good news since they killed of most of the top management.
@Robocod Everything i needed to know about this deal was confirmed by Activision and Microsoft Executives threatening the UK as a result of the CMA deal. Thats not doing business in good faith in my opinion. As a UK citizen, i am apalled by the rhetoric being used.
Its deals like this that again show the gaming industry to be misunderstood by those in power. Those making these decisions still seem to view the gaming industry as being for solely for children - the legal papers actually used a mario image to represent the activision blizzard deal showing that they have no concept of what they were ruling on:
It just feels like an overly simplistic assessment was used when making the decision
Riiiiiiiight just like they "wouldn't do that" with Bethesda games 🙄
Microsoft don't care about losing some CoD sales due to ditching Playstation. They are playing the long game and they want to own the biggest franchises to force users into their ecosystem/subscriptions long-term.
@AhmadSumadi Minecraft is still on PlayStation and Switch despite Microsoft owning it for years.
COD will be no different because MS just wants to lock the IP to Game Pass.
They don't care about the console war anymore and probably haven't since the XBONE failed to make a comeback last gen.
Xbox is player 3 and history shows player 3 never lasts in the market.
People the real money is in candy crush let's put that on console's and see what happens 😏 😉
I am disappointed in how naive the european commission is.
Microsoft will pull it out eventually, but for now they don't care. Microsoft is a trillion dollar company and their objective is to corner the gaming streaming market in the future. They don't care about the now very much.
They will totally do it when the time comes. It's not a matter of if, but of when.
I am so glad the UK regulators were smarter than the EU here. I never thought I'd cheer for brexit, but good one there.
Bah, Sony is going to remain more popular than Xbox. The sales numbers tell the story... today, and tomorrow.
@Rob_230 Yep,same here mate! Their aggressive reaction was history repeating if you recall the Bill Gates era Microsoft in the 90's when the FTC tried to clip their wings in an antitrust action over Internet Explorer vs Netscape "browser wars".
Monopolies always get nasty when their ability to cannibalise other companies to benefit themselves is threatened!🙄
Seriously,streaming deals where the revenue is skewed 100% to M$,& Switch which hasn't even had a COD this generation as Bobby Kotick didn't think it viable!
(Versus his being comfortable with marketing dlc deals with either Sony/XB until his mismanagement skeletons were finally exposed & tanked the share price?)
You could call it naivety...until you include their previous rubber stamping the Zenimax Bethesda deal & ignoring how Microsoft immediately started cancelling all playstation ports not locked in contracts...& the US Congress people (on both sides of their massive political divide),on Microsoft's donation payroll ramping up the "Murican first" rhetoric & ramping up absurd charges of a "Sony monopoly" in Japan!🙄
Not expecting anything from my country's system. Been a while since the ACCC beat Valve down here to help create their current refund system! They never demanded the exact same thing when they fined Sony EU Store through the courts.
So suspect they're just waiting for others to have done the hard lifting before they rubber stamp it!
Sad times indeed when megacorps like Microsoft, Facebook,Amazon etc. exist!😕
@Green-Bandit You miss the intent of the post! I wouldn't expect them to do it now of course and Id support many of your arguments as to why they wont.
But the EU have stated that they wouldnt do it as they wouldnt want to miss all them sales, which we both know is BS. The reasons they wont do it are far more in line with what you describe, and the fact the EU cant see a much more naunced perspective and base it simply on profit on one game is troubling.
"No company is that dumb, not even MS." I can see you dont use windows 11 then? 🤣 jk, dont shoot me!
@NEStalgia That's actually not true. It's been said for a long time that MS specifically wanted to beat Sony and that's why they entered the console market. Even a former MS executive said as much.
"I mean, at least a portion of Sony is [an entertainment company], and they had some really good things going there, but as soon as they came out with a video console, Microsoft just looked at that and said 'well, we have to beat them, so let’s do our own.'"
@Titntin HAHA nope i am an Apple user exclusively out side of work and it uses windows 10. Not a big fan. Xbox is the only MS product i own in my house and if they don’t pick it up soon not even that haha. No i get your point. I just think that MS has backed themselves into a corner with the whole play where you want with who you want ecosystem. Taking COD off of PS actually weakens that commitment and then just opens a whole door of bad PR. Maybe you’re right and i am missing the point. But i just think they kind of have to keep games that they said would be there actually be there. Pulling COD is a PR nightmare and raises flags to anything they want to buy or do in the next 10 years. After 10 years who knows, i don’t pretend to know what games or even tech will be around and popular in 10 years. Thanks for the windows 11 laugh HAHA. As a MAC and iOS user i am not even sure what i would want to see windows do and look like.
@Green-Bandit I agree completely, no way they are pulling COD now. But its not because they can't afford to lose the money from PS sales Not that I have much stake, I never play COD, and I've always been multiplat...
@Titntin yeah I know what you mean, it has nothing to do with money. MS is making great money, as they always do. Also i feel like MS would like to work closer with Nintendo and Sony than they want to work with them. Nintendo seems to be coming around, so who knows where that relationship goes. Much how now Apple and MS work together on projects. I even use a few MS services on my Apple devices. So damaging Sony i don’t think is in MS’s best interest but i could just be being to nice.
The EU using words like “probably” doesn’t fill you with confidence. They basically have no idea!
@Matroska That's part of the story but not all of it. It was specifically about directX. Ms had the games development and therefore games default platform locked with directx at the time. With the rise of ps Sony was pushing more and more development toward opengl and non Ms development platforms and consequently not even guaranteed to be a supported platform, AND losing developer environments being theirs. That's really why they started xb to complete in console to secure the primacy of games being developed in Windows tools in directx and being the default platform. Thus why it was codenamed "Project DirectX Box". That wasn't supposed to become the name but it stuck.
I can't remember who was interviewed but it's absolutely true that Sony was going to put games on it and it was kutaragi that shut it down. The other executives didn't see a threat.
Ironically today ps is putting games on windows and their cloud is ONLY windows. Kutaragi lost, really.
But that's a very different past. DX is secured. Sony itself even ports to it now. They're not really in that competition there anymore.
Interesting link though. That's the first I'd heard that Ms was actively courting a relationship with Sony and it was Sony refusing (sounds bigger than ps, like movie and music relationships as well.)
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