Sony has responded to Microsoft’s blockbuster proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a deal that sent shockwaves through the industry and one that could hurt the PlayStation company.
One of the biggest questions going forward, should Microsoft’s deal go through, is whether or not games like Call of Duty will become Xbox-exclusive or stay on all platforms. A spokesperson for Sony told The Wall Street Journal (via VGC), “We expect that Microsoft will abide by contractural agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are multiplatform.”
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Activision recently published the prospectus of its deal with Microsoft, and there are multiple sections pertaining to what happens with regards to “existing partner agreements.” You can see a full breakdown of these below, but the quick takeaway is that Activision Blizzard said it will honor “all existing commitments” when the deal closes. “As with Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft, we have no intent to remove any content from platforms where it exists today,” the company said.
Microsoft acquired Mojang and the Minecraft series and it continues to release the games on PlayStation (and Nintendo) instead of making them exclusive to Xbox. For Microsoft’s Bethesda buyout, Microsoft is honoring existing contracts–which is why Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo are PlayStation exclusives at launch–but future titles like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are expected to be Xbox-exclusives.
Activision and Sony have never disclosed the terms of their exclusivity arrangement for Call of Duty, so it remains unclear if the franchise will stay multiplatform. Some have suggested that Call of Duty: Warzone might remain multiplatform, with the yearly “mainline” games becoming Xbox-exclusive. This is just speculation for now, though, and no official announcements have been made.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard may be legally forbidden from discussing specifics about the deal due to regulatory rules, so fans hoping for concrete answers might not get them for some time. Officially, the deal is expected to close in Microsoft’s FY2023, which runs July 2022-June 2023.
This will no doubt be an evolving and ongoing story, so keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.
Activision/Microsoft Contract Details
How does this transaction impact existing partner agreements (i.e., Sony, Google, Apple)? Will this change what we’re able to offer our partners or how we structure our agreements?
We will honor all existing commitments post close. As with Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft, we have no intent to remove any content from platforms where it exists today. We would be open to discussions to enter into an agreement to confirm our intent when it is appropriate to do so.
Will Activision Blizzard begin to work with Microsoft partners?
At this time, it remains business as usual, and we do not anticipate any changes to existing contracts or partnerships.Players are at the center of everything we do at Activision Blizzard and Microsoft, and both teams will continue to provide great games and services to their players and partners. We are still working to finalize the specifics of the future organization and will provide updates as we are able
Does this mean Microsoft has to approve all business decisions at Activision Blizzard?
Until transaction close both companies will continue to operate independently.
What will the relationship between Xbox and Activision Blizzard be?
Activision Blizzard’s games exist on a variety of platforms today, and we plan to continue supporting those communities moving forward. The transaction is about increasing the availability of Activision Blizzard’s content across more platforms. This is consistent with Microsoft’s commitment to giving players more choice to play the games they want, anywhere.
How will this transaction affect our pipeline and existing games? How will current projects be affected by the transaction? After the deal closes, will we work on non-Activision Blizzard titles/products within Microsoft/Xbox/Bethesda?
We do not anticipate that this news will affect the rollout of Activision Blizzard’s current pipeline or existing games. Until close it remains business as usual and both companies will continue to operate independently. We are still working to finalize the specifics of the future organization. For now, we ask that you stay focused on your current responsibilities.
Will this acquisition increase Activision Blizzard’s ability to create new products and focus on innovation?
This transaction is predominantly about growth and Microsoft’s diversified operation will create meaningful opportunities for future development and innovation. This deal will combine Activision Blizzard’s audience, IP, and iconic games with Microsoft’s secure technology and platform to create a new company that can increase competition in the metaverse.