It has been a day of revelations in the gaming industry as documents provided by Microsoft and Sony to the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) come to light. As Microsoft attempts to smooth over its $69bn acquisition Of Activision Blizzard, Sony is trying to stop the deal. Even if that means pissing off other developers.
If Microsoft acquires Activision Blizzard, it will gain massive franchises like Diablo, Warcraft, Candy Crush, and more importantly, Call of Duty. Microsoft insists it will keep CoD as a cross-platform franchise, but Sony thinks the company will eventually make the brand exclusive to Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Xbox consoles.
Whether that is true or not remains to be seen and it is up to regulators to decide. In a filing to the CMA, Sony paints Call of Duty as essential to the success of PlayStation. The company says the franchise is unique and cannot be replaced by rival shooter franchises like EA’s Battlefield:
“Call of Duty is not replicable. Call of Duty is too entrenched for any rival, no matter how well equipped, to catch up. It has been the top-selling game for almost every year in the last decade and, in the first-person shooter (‘FPS’) genre, it is overwhelmingly the top-selling game. Other publishers do not have the resources or expertise to match its success. To give a concrete example, Electronic Arts — one of the largest third-party developers after Activision — has tried for many years to produce a rival to Call of Duty with its Battlefield series.
Despite the similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield — and despite EA’s track record in developing other successful AAA franchises (such as FIFA, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Star Wars: Battlefront) — the Battlefield franchise cannot keep up. As of August 2021, more than 400 million Call of Duty games had been sold, while Battlefield had sold just 88.7 million copies.”
Sony is basically saying Battlefield cannot compete with Call of Duty, which hardly makes good reading if you an EA executive. It is worth noting EA has a deal with Microsoft that allows its games to be a part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
From the filings this week, we have also learned Sony plans to launch the PlayStation 6 in 2027, and that Microsoft thinks Sony has better exclusives than Xbox.
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