Microsoft has moved one step further towards its $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard getting approval from regulators. The company has agreed with Nintendo to allow Call of Duty to remain on Switch and other Nintendo consoles for 10 years after the merger closes. If Microsoft's merger closes in 2023, that will keep Call of Duty on Nintendo until 2033.
One of the main concerns regulators have over the deal is Microsoft will keep Activision Blizzard franchises exclusive to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming. While major properties like Candy Crush and Warcraft are included in the acquisition, Call of Duty is the center of the debate. Sony has described the franchise as unreplaceable on PlayStation.
Microsoft has entered into a 10-year commitment to bring Call of Duty to @Nintendo following the merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King. Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people – however they choose to play. @ATVI_AB
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 7, 2022
Microsoft has confirmed it has offered Sony the same 10-year license that Nintendo has agreed to. However, the Japanese company has yet to agree to the terms. Microsoft president Brad Smith says “Sony has emerged as the loudest objector” to the buyout of Activision Blizzard. He says the company is “as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix.”
After announcing the agreement with Nintendo, Smith once again extended an olive branch to Sony:
“Any day Sony wants to sit down and talk, we'll be happy to hammer out a 10-year deal for PlayStation as well,” said Smith on Twitter.
Microsoft has needed to provide concessions to ensure regulators approve the deal. Authorities in the UK, EU, and US are looking closely at the acquisition with concerns over monopolization. Microsoft has said from day one there is more profit in keeping Call of Duty on other platforms.
However, that may not always be the case and the company is needing to commit to longer licensing agreements. It seems Sony does not want the deal to happen no matter what, even with a 10-year agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.
Rumors are swirling that the FTC may greenlight the deal, while other reports point to the US regulator bringing a lawsuit. What happens with the regulator will play a major role in whether Sony accepts Microsoft's offer. If the company thinks the deal will be approved, it will be forced to accept the terms.
However, maybe Sony will continue to hope regulators will shut down the merger. While Sony is playing the long game, Steam owner Valve says Microsoft offered it the same 10-year license. Speaking to Kotaku, Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell says no such agreement is necessary:
“Microsoft offered and even sent us a draft agreement for a long-term Call of Duty commitment but it wasn't necessary for us because a) we're not believers in requiring any partner to have an agreement that locks them to shipping games on Steam into the distant future b) Phil and the games team at Microsoft have always followed through on what they told us they would do so we trust their intentions and c) we think Microsoft has all the motivation they need to be on the platforms and devices where Call of Duty customers want to be.”
Tip of the day: Did you know that your data and privacy might be at risk if you run Windows without encryption? A bootable USB with a live-linux distribution is often just enough to gain access to all of your files.
If you want to change that, check out our detailed BitLocker guide where we show you how to turn on encryption for your system disk or any other drive you might be using in your computer.