Microsoft is inching ever closer to its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, but as the two companies await regulatory approval, Sony has raised concerns about how the deal will affect its PlayStation business. This week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) shared a new document containing Sony’s observations about the imminent takeover.
Among Sony’s concerns is the worry that Microsoft could effectively sabotage future Call of Duty games on PlayStation consoles.
Sony doesn’t want Microsoft to have Call of Duty
Here’s the relevant passage from the document detailing Microsoft’s potential master plan:
For example, Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty. Indeed, as Modern Warfare II attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue.
Sony’s aversion to Microsoft owning one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time isn’t especially surprising, but this is quite a conspiracy the company has cooked up.
Some of Sony’s other concerns include Microsoft raising the price for Call of Duty on PlayStation, degrading Call of Duty games to ignore PlayStation-specific features (i.e. DualSense haptics), or making Call of Duty an Xbox Game Pass exclusive.
Regardless of the legitimacy of any of these concerns, they elucidate just how important the Call of Duty series is to both platforms. For its part, Microsoft has responded to Sony’s observations. Here’s what a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement (via Eurogamer):
Since the CMA issued its Provisional Findings, we have offered solutions which address its concerns and increase the deal’s benefits to UK players and game developers. These include a guarantee of parity between Xbox and PlayStation on access to Call of Duty and legally binding commitments to ensure that Call of Duty is available to at least 150 million more players on other consoles and cloud streaming platforms once the deal closes.
Whether that is enough for Sony or regulators remains to be seen.