Microsoft is currently defending itself from UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) scrutiny over its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. As part of its response to the CMA’s decision to investigate further, Microsoft has revealed that pre-existing deals between Sony and Activision Blizzard restrict their ability to put Call of Duty on Game Pass for a number of years.
Microsoft already made public (via Phil Spencer’s Twitter) their willingness to honor all existing contracts and agreements with Sony once Activision Blizzard is acquired. Phil Spencer’s tweet is used in these court documents, with a footnote specifying that restrictions of the Call of Duty franchise on Game Pass is part of this arrangement. This can be found in footnote 90, on page 22.
Sony has already expressed how the deal offered by Microsoft in response to the acquisition of Activision Blizzard is, from PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, “inadequate.” The PlayStation series of consoles are a hugely popular platform for Call of Duty games. Losing the iconic series to Xbox, especially if they’re available on demand in the Game Pass service, is a key part of their appeal to the CMA to restrict the acquisition.
In a statement given to gamesindustry.biz, Ryan clarified that “Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends.” The end of this cross-platform agreement could also be the end date for Microsoft’s commitment to keep Call of Duty games off Game Pass.
Microsoft has suggested that if Sony believes in competition, to “let us have competition.” The response filed to the CMA’s decision for further investigation specifies that Xbox “will not build an “unmatchable” advantage in multi-game subscription services.”
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