A short while after Microsoft said they were open to a longer term contract with Sony to ensure, in writing, that Call of Duty would continue appearing on the platform for a long time if they acquired Activision Blizzard, we now know exactly just how long Microsoft was thinking.
After Phil Spencer said they couldn’t just make a “forever” contract, the offer they are actually making is a 10 year contract to ensure Call of Duty would keep being sold on PlayStation after they bought it, up from the three year offer they made previous that Jim Ryan called “inadequate.”
Sony has not commented on the new offer yet, but at this point you might wonder what offer they would take if they won’t take this one, but there you’ve found your answer.
No offers. They do not have a reason to take…any offers, from their perspective. Here’s why.
I do not believe that Sony truly believes that Microsoft will actually take Call of Duty off PlayStation, even after acquisition. Other than the fact that Microsoft has said, repeatedly, that they won’t, and going back on that would do massive brand damage to Xbox, it seems excruciatingly obvious that Microsoft wants a cut of $70 Call of Duty sales across 100 million plus PlayStation consoles, while at the same time, offering the game themselves as part of Game Pass.
This is likely going to happen with or without any sort of 3 year or 10 year contract, but if Sony accepts any sort of deal, that effectively gives tacit endorsement to the acquisition with their main goal still being that…they do not want it to go through at all.
Sony is not going to take a Call of Duty deal as it would undercut the current case against Microsoft doing this Activision Blizzard deal in the first place, given that UK and EU regulators have so far, appeared to side with Sony pretty strongly about it, at times even using Sony’s own talking points. Agreeing to a deal would have Microsoft pointing to Sony and saying “see, we worked things out with our biggest rival, you can approve the deal now!”
Now, there are rumblings that the FTC in the US may be gearing up to take a harder look at the deal, inviting further scrutiny and implying it may yet be far from a sure thing. Sony smells blood, and they’re not going to do anything that could appear to help Microsoft’s case.
Like it’s pretty clear:
- If Sony doesn’t take a deal and Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard, Call of Duty will almost certainly continue to be sold on PlayStation anyway.
- If Sony doesn’t take a deal, and regulators shut down Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition, nothing changes, as Call of Duty remains third party, and will in fact be desperate for cash if that deal falls through, opening them up to continue to do deals like they one they’ve had with Sony for the past few years.
Microsoft may look like the “good guy” by offering Sony a frankly absurd deal that they do not need to put on the table at all, and Sony may look petty for snubbing it, and yet it makes perfectly logical sense why they are doing so if you actually pull back to look at the entire situation. This will all come down to regulators in the end, not Microsoft offering Sony a comfy enough pillow to make them agree to it. They never will.