Microsoft has struck a deal with video game competitor Nintendo to allow the “Call of Duty” first-person shooting games on its consoles for a decade, executives announced Tuesday night.
The move was made in light of Microsoft’s attempted $69 billion purchase of the Activision Blizzard studio, which produces “Call of Duty.” Antitrust regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission, are still mulling whether to let the purchase go through.
“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,” Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer tweeted.
In a following tweet, Mr. Spencer announced that “Call of Duty” would stay on Valve’s computer gaming purchasing platform Steam as well.
“We’re happy that Microsoft wants to continue using Steam to reach customers with Call of Duty when their Activision acquisition closes. Microsoft has been on Steam for a long time and we take it as a signal that they are happy with gamers’ reception to that and the work we are doing,” Valve President Gabe Newell said in a statement to the New York Times.
Sony has emerged as the primary objector within the industry to the merger, given the importance of games like “Call of Duty” to both the Xbox and PlayStation line of video game consoles.
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In a Monday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft President Brad Smith addressed that issue.
“The main supposed potential anticompetitive risk Sony raises is that Microsoft would stop making ‘Call of Duty’ available on the PlayStation. But that would be economically irrational. … That’s why 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,” Mr. Smith wrote.
In a tweet addressing the Nintendo deal Tuesday night, Mr. Smith reiterated Microsoft’s 10-year offer to Sony.
Our acquisition will bring Call of Duty to more gamers and more platforms than ever before. That’s good for competition and good for consumers. Thank you @Nintendo. Any day @ Sony wants to sit down and talk, we’ll be happy to hammer out a 10-year deal for PlayStation as well. https://t.co/m1IQxdeo6n</ p>— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) December 7, 2022
Some experts say that, while the 10-year plans may assuage regulators, Sony’s concerns may be harder to alleviate.
“A 10-year commitment sounds significant. Sony would be indeed safe during the lifecycle of the PlayStation 5 but could run into trouble by the time the next console generation begins. So I believe the offer will not be enough to squash Sony’s concerns, but it might calm down regulators to some extent,” Serkan Toto, chief executive of Tokyo-based videogames consultancy firm Kantan Games, told CNBC.
Mr. Smith is meeting with Federal Trade Commission regulators Wednesday to further lobby for the completion of the Activision acquisition, according to the New York Post.