In response to Microsoft’s sensational offer to purchase Activision Blizzard, Sony made a statement about what that would imply for next PlayStation console games like Call of Duty. According to a spokeswoman, “We believe that Microsoft will uphold contractual obligations and continue to ensure that Activision games are multiplatform.”
The language of that sentence is anything from definitive. It makes sense for Sony to anticipate Microsoft upholding any existing agreements with respect to PlayStation titles, as it did when PS5 console-exclusive Deathloop was made available following Microsoft’s acquisition of developer Bethesda Softworks. When current contracts expire, Microsoft will have the opportunity to pursue Xbox exclusivity for the several franchises it is acquiring.
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Call of Duty is the topic in focus. Although the Call of Duty franchise is extremely successful on both Xbox and PlayStation, Sony has had a marketing agreement with Activision for the franchise for more than five years. Former PlayStation CEO Andrew House claimed during Sony’s E3 2015 press conference that “PlayStation is the new home of Call of Duty.” Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the second-most played PS5 game overall in 2021, just behind Fortnite, according to information provided by Sony in November.
According to NPD, Call of Duty also claimed the top two positions for US game sales for the entire year 2021, underscoring its influence on the market. After Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Sony will have no control over the long-term viability of Call of Duty on the PlayStation. Starfield became an exclusive for the Xbox and PC thanks to Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda, and Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has hinted that The Elder Scrolls VI will follow suit.
According to Spencer earlier this week, “Activision Blizzard games are played on a variety of platforms, and we intend to support those communities moving forward.” It’s simple to see a scenario in which Microsoft continues to support Call of Duty: Warzone on many platforms, but all upcoming Call of Duty titles are Xbox-only. Microsoft isn’t going to spend $68.7 billion on perpetual PlayStation game publishing, after all.