Sony Claps Back At Microsoft Over Limited Promise For ‘CoD’ Cross-Platform Plans
from the call-dropped dept
And here we are again, with more exclusivity drama coming out of the recent acquisitions Microsoft has undertaken in the video game space. After the announcements of the Zenimax/Bethesda and Activision Blizzard acquisitions, which are still going through review, Microsoft came out with a bunch of conflicting statements on what those buys would mean for exclusivity of games. Then the company said some games, mostly from the Bethesda acquisition, would be “first/best” on Xbox. Then one title from Bethesda was announced as an Xbox exclusive. And then, after all of that, came Xbox chief Phil Spencer talking about how exclusives weren’t the future, as everyone listening realized that they certainly seem to be Xbox’s present.
And through it all, a decent chunk of the gaming public kept asking the same question: yeah, but is Call of Duty going to still be on Sony’s PlayStation? And the answer is yes! Because Sony and Activision had already inked a deal for the next 3 games to be released on that system. But what about after that? Well, its time for another lesson in how to muddy the waters as much as possible, brought to you once again by Phil Spencer.
“In January, we provided a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation, with feature and content parity, for at least several more years beyond the current Sony contract, an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements,” says Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in a statement to The Verge.
Several more years. At least. Maybe. How many years? Months ago Microsoft made some noises about it being two years after the current deal. More recently, some have said three. Phil Spencer says it’s “at least several more years.” What’s the actual answer? Insert shrugging emoji here.
And here’s the better question: specifically for CoD games, if exclusivity for that title isn’t the present, which it isn’t, and Spencer says exclusives aren’t the future… then what’s with the “at least”? We seem to be running out of phases of time in which these exclusives would occur at all. Unless he’s lying, of course.
But even if he’s not, Sony is clapping back on this.
PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan says a Microsoft offer to keep the Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation for “three years after the current agreement” was “inadequate on many levels, and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers.”
In a statement provided to multiple outlets, including the Financial Times, Ryan said that “we want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience,” even if Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion bid to buy Activision Blizzard is approved. “Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle,” Ryan said.
No doubt. Sony’s obviously not being altruistic here; it wants to sell CoD games because they’re crazy successful. On the other hand, Spencer is being shifty and vague, or non-commital at best. The motivation for that? Well, as I said, the Activsion acquisition is still being reviewed by governments over anti-trust concerns.
Sony’s and Microsoft’s dueling statements around Call of Duty access come during a crucial phase of Microsoft’s quest for international regulatory approval of its record-setting proposed acquisition. Last week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority announced it was launching a “Phase 2” investigation into the proposed merger, saying the deal “could substantially lessen competition” in the market for console and streaming games.
And that is the context you have to keep in mind for all of this. Spencer is making these public statements at the very time that regulators are deciding whether the acquisition is going to have a negative competitive effect on the gaming market. I certainly can’t say that that is driving what he’s saying… but I can wonder. As can the regulators. As can the public.
And given the careful, measured, vague delivery of Xbox’s plans? Well, it’s certainly seems possible that the audience for these comments isn’t the public.