Keeping Call of Duty available on PlayStation consoles for ten years would be long enough for Sony to develop its own CoD alternative. Microsoft indicated this in a conversation with the British competition authority in the context of the Activision acquisition.
In one (painted black on many parts) document on the website of the British Competition and Markets Authority, Microsoft responds to questions from the authority about Microsoft’s desired acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Specifically, it concerns Microsoft’s commitments that should reduce or remove concerns about the takeover. One of the concerns revolves around Microsoft’s competitive position if the acquisition gives the company the rights to Call of Duty games. Microsoft has previously offered a ten-year CoD license to Sony for this purpose, so that new CoD titles can also be played on PlayStation consoles for ten years after the takeover. “Microsoft considers a ten-year period sufficient for Sony, as a leading publishing company and console platform, to develop an alternative to Call of Duty,” said Microsoft.
In addition, Microsoft points out that the ten-year deal will partly apply in the new console generation and that the effect of this agreement will extend beyond the ten years, because games downloaded in the last year of the deal will remain playable for many years after that. Microsoft further states that it has an interest in distributing Call of Duty games as widely as possible and therefore in keeping the games on the PlayStation, even after the ten years have expired. The company also points to agreements with Nintendo and Nvidia regarding Call of Duty to make it clear that Microsoft’s goal is to make the games available to the widest possible audience. According to Microsoft, keeping CoD available on PlayStation and Nintendo consoles, GeForce Now and other cloud gaming platforms means that a growing player base is created and that Microsoft has no incentive or even opportunity to make CoD an exclusive.
Microsoft wants to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. That would be the largest acquisition in the gaming sector to date. The companies announced the deal last year. Sony opposes this acquisition and does not want to take up Microsoft’s ten-year offer. As far as regulators are concerned, the American regulator FTC, among others, is critical because Microsoft would gain an unfair advantage and could restrict competition in the market. The European Commission is also critical and the British regulator even stated earlier that the takeover could harm gamers. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick previously reacted angrily to the criticism from the British regulator. He thinks that the United Kingdom is missing economic opportunities by voting against and thinks that the regulator is going too far along the line of the American FTC. The European Commission will issue an opinion on the takeover on 22 May.