According to a recent claim from Microsoft, Sony’s current deal with Call of Duty “restricts” the popular shooter series from appearing exclusively on Xbox Game Pass. This detail was uncovered in Xbox’s full response to a recent filing from the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
In this response, Microsoft references a January 20th tweet from Phil Spencer where the CEO of Microsoft Gaming said that the company will “honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision-Blizzard.” After that, Microsoft goes on to say that the current agreement between Sony and Activision-Blizzard “includes restrictions on the ability of Activision-Blizzard to place Call of Duty titles on Game Pass for a number of years.”
At this time, the nature of these “restrictions” is still unclear. Moreover, we don’t know how long these restrictions will last.
The United Kingdom’s CMA is currently investigating Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision-Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The CMA said that it plans on publishing a report on this deal on March 1st, 2023, meaning all parties’ responses must be submitted by February. If this deal is approved, the state of the gaming industry will likely change in a big way this coming Spring.
The Profit‘s Take:
Microsoft was unaware of this deal prior to its attempted acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. Since then, somebody at Microsoft must’ve seen this deal and asked, “how much MORE money could we make if we put Call of Duty on Game Pass?” Based on where we are now, we can assume that number wasn’t large enough to derail this deal. Otherwise, Microsoft would be fighting back against these restrictions with more force. Microsoft COULD HAVE chosen to not honor this deal. Then, Sony would’ve complained or sued. But, if the number was big enough, then Microsoft would’ve accepted those consequences. Since they didn’t, the number probably isn’t as big as we would expect. If Call of Duty ever becomes a Game Pass exclusive, we have to wonder how that decision will impact the gaming market.