Microsoft and Sony have been locking horns over the former’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard for several months now, with how Call of Duty will be handled in the future being a sticking point not only for regulators, but also for Sony. Though Microsoft has stressed that it has no intentions to make the franchise exclusive to Xbox – having also signed binding agreements to bring it to Nintendo and Nvidia platforms for the next 10 years, with a similar deal also on the table for PlayStation – Sony is now raising concerns over how Microsoft could undermine the series on PlayStation in order to direct audiences to purchasing it on Xbox.
As shared by The Verge’s Tom Warren on Twitter, in its arguments submitted to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Sony has said that in spite of Call of Duty’s potential day and date multiplatform releases, Microsoft could still sabotage the franchise on PlayStation platforms through late-game or post-launch bugs that would cause the audience to “lose confidence” in the platform and be compelled to switch to Xbox instead.
“Swiftly detecting any diversions from, and ensuring compliance with, a commitment as to technical or graphical quality would be challenging,” Sony’s argument reads. “For example, Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely be too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty. Indeed, as Modern Warfare 2 attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue.”
It’s fair to say that that’s very much an unlikely scenario, to say the least, and seems more like a manufactured concern by Sony to put forward arguments rather than making an actual, realistic case. To suggest that Microsoft would intentionally sabotage a series that sells massive numbers on PlayStation on a consistent basis, thus impacting its own revenue and profits, seems questionable at best.
It’s no surprise that, as revealed by Activision Blizzard exec Lulu Cheng Meservey, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has explicitly said that he’s not interested in a Call of Duty deal from Microsoft, and only wants to block the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has also confirmed that it will allow Sony to put Call of Duty games on PlayStation Plus at launch under the same terms as its Game Pass releases. The UK’s CMA is set to reach a final decision over the deal by April 26, and analysts are expecting it to be greenlit.
Sony suggests to the CMA that Microsoft could release a buggy version of Call of Duty on PlayStation which could make gamers lose confidence "in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty." Seriously… 🙃 pic.twitter.com/6y0vnQh7rm
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 8, 2023