Microsoft has offered Sony a 10-year contract to make future Call of Duty games available on PlayStation if its proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition goes ahead. Microsoft president Brad Smith confirmed the deal in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today, noting that “Sony has emerged as the loudest objector” to Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition and that “it’s as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix.”
“We’ve offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new ‘Call of Duty’ release available on PlayStation the same day it comes to Xbox,” says Smith. “We’re open to providing the same commitment to other platforms and making it legally enforceable by regulators in the US, UK, and European Union.”
Microsoft’s new offer is designed to appease regulators and Sony
Such a concession has been hinted at in recent weeks, with The New York Times reporting Microsoft made the offer to Sony on November 11th. Microsoft Gaming CEO also hinted in a recent Verge interview that he would be happy to “make a longer-term commitment that Sony would be comfortable with.”
The Verge revealed in September that Spencer made a written commitment to PlayStation head Jim Ryan earlier this year to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several more years” beyond the existing marketing deal Sony has with Activision. That letter was sent around the time Spencer publicly committed to Microsoft’s “intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.”
Sony labeled Microsoft’s offer “inadequate on many levels,” and it sparked a debate around whether Microsoft wanted to lock Call of Duty up after a few years. Spencer then settled that debate once and for all last month.
Microsoft’s latest offer to Sony comes as the company faces increased regulatory scrutiny over its Activision Blizzard deal. The EU has opened up an in-depth investigation, and reports suggest the Federal Trade Commission is preparing a potential legal challenge to block the deal from happening.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also signaled a closer look at the deal in September, which led to Microsoft pleading for its Activision deal before describing the CMA’s concerns as “misplaced” and accusing the regulator of adopting “Sony’s complaints without considering the potential harm to consumers.”