Call of Duty will remain non-exclusive despite Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard.
Microsoft has now promised that Call of Duty won’t be an Xbox-exclusive franchise despite its impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Xbox Game Studios head Phil Spencer recently confirmed as much in an interview with the Same Brain podcast, saying that Microsoft will keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles, “as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to.”
Getting Call of Duty under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella was undoubtedly a huge motivator for Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard last year, so it’s a little surprising that the company isn’t planning to make it exclusive to Xbox consoles and PC. There is precedent, however: many feared that Minecraft would vanish from other platforms after Microsoft acquired its developer Mojang in 2014, but the game was instead made more widely available than ever before.
No one was more worried about Call of Duty going Xbox-exclusive than Sony PlayStation, who recently called the company’s Call of Duty offer, “inadequate on many levels.” Before today, Microsoft had only confirmed that Call of Duty will not become a franchise exclusive to Xbox devices for three more years. This is the first time the company has confirmed that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation consoles for good.
Spencer says in the podcast:
We’re not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation. I know that – which isn’t exactly what you asked, but just to, like, punch that one in the nose, that’s not our intent. Our intent is not to do that, and as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we’d continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation, similar to what we’ve done with Minecraft since we’ve owned that.
Spencer goes on to say that the Activision Blizzard acquisition will see a lot more great games coming to Xbox Game Pass, though he doesn’t specifically include Call of Duty as one of them. Activision currently has a deal with PlayStation in place for the Call of Duty franchise that it has to honour despite this acquisition, which Microsoft has said could keep these games from being added to Xbox Game Pass for a few more years.
Microsoft’s $70 billion acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard is by far the biggest of its kind that the games industry has ever seen, and it certainly hasn’t been a smooth one thus far. Sony has protested the acquisition to protect its Call of Duty interests, while the entire deal has been subject to one regulatory investigation after another.
Most recently, the EU’s European Commission has reportedly begun to investigate the acquisition deal in more depth. The UK’s CMA is already in the second phase of its investigation, and the US’ FTC is also running an investigation. As of right now, Microsoft has no control over ActivisionBlizzard until these rulings are complete, but the company remains confident that the deal will close by the end of its current fiscal year – June 2023.