Among the largest concerns regulators have expressed was the idea that certain significant game series — particularly the Call of Duty franchise, one of the largest games series on the planet — might become platform-exclusive to Xbox as a result of the acquisition. To help get ahead of this question, Xbox has said in multiple settings and ways that Call of Duty will remain available on PlayStation.
While the first statement only said that the series would remain multi-platform for the remainder of the current contract between Activision and PlayStation parent company Sony. On Monday, Xbox president Phil Spencer clarified that Microsoft has signed an offer with Sony to keep the game on PlayStation beyond that contract, as well. This deal wasn’t intended to be public, according to Sony, and it still isn’t enough of a guarantee for the future.
“I hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion, but I feel the need to set the record straight because Phil Spencer brought this into the public forum,” PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said in a statement to business-focused website Games Industry.biz.
“Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends,” Ryan continued. “After almost 20 years of Call of Duty on PlayStation, their proposal was inadequate on many levels and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers. We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle.”
While none of these deals are set in stone, (outside of the initial one, which was made before Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard began) both companies have incentive to continue these semi-public negotiations. For Microsoft, it’s a chance to prove to regulators that it’s working with Sony to ensure it doesn’t monopolize franchises like Call of Duty, while Sony has the opportunity to get a more favorable deal while Microsoft is under a bit of extra pressure.