Microsoft agrees to keep Call of Duty on Sony Playstation after it buys Activision Blizzard
Microsoft has signed an agreement with Sony to keep the Call of Duty video game series on the PlayStation console after the tech giant acquires video game maker Activision Blizzard.
The announcement was made Sunday in a Twitter post by Phil Spencer, who heads up Microsoft's Xbox division.
"We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games," Spencer said in the post.
Call of Duty has been at the center of a corporate tug-of-war between Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation over Microsoft's planned $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, which makes the best-selling Call of Duty lineup.
As it tried to persuade regulators around the world to approve the deal, Microsoft struck deals with Nintendo and some cloud gaming providers to license Activision titles like Call of Duty for 10 years and offered the same to Sony. Until now, Sony hadn't signed on. It has now, as Microsoft inches closer to completing the buyout.
On Friday, a U.S. appeals court rejected a bid by federal regulators to block Microsoft's acquisition.
Microsoft struck the deal for Activision in January of 2022 to expand its video game imprint beyond Xbox, which has less market share than longtime industry leader Sony and its PlayStation device. The company has been seeking regulatory approval in the U.S. and abroad over the past few months, trailed by objections from Sony, which feared losing access to what it describes as a "must-have" game title.
In testimony given during the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's legal dispute over the acquisition, Sony executive Jim Ryan said he initially expressed little worry about the deal after private conversations with Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and Spencer.
Ryan said he later came to believe Microsoft would leverage Call of Duty's popularity to disadvantage PlayStation, whose players might get a more "degraded experience."
Sony did not immediately reply to a request for comment Sunday. Microsoft confirmed the agreement will run for 10 years.
"From Day One of this acquisition, we've been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers," Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a tweet. "Even after we cross the finish line for this deal's approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before."
The tech giant must close the acquisition by Tuesday to avoid a potential $3 billion termination fee.
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