Microsoft has signed a binding agreement to ensure that the Call of Duty video game franchise remains available on Sony’s PlayStation platform after Microsoft’s $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the tech company said on Sunday, easing concerns from Sony and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
A tweet from Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming’s CEO, read: “We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and @PlayStation have signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games.”
In the United States, the FTC had argued the acquisition deal would hurt consumers whether they played video games on consoles or had subscriptions because Microsoft would have an incentive to shut out rivals like Sony Group.
However Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled on 11 June: “The FTC has not shown it is likely to succeed on its assertion the combined firm will probably pull Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation, or that its ownership of Activision content will substantially lessen competition in the video game library subscription and cloud gaming markets.”
To address the FTC’s concerns, Microsoft had agreed to license Call of Duty to rivals, including a 10-year contract with Nintendo, contingent on the merger closing.
On Sunday, Microsoft did not disclose the duration of the agreement with Sony.
“From Day One of this acquisition, we’ve been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers,” said Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, in a tweet. “Even after we cross the finish line for this deal’s approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before.”
Microsoft has a deadline of 18 July to complete the transaction with Activision Blizzard although both companies could choose to extend that deadline.
Regulators in the EU had approved the takeover deal in May, a move that drew immediate protest from the UK counterpart, the Competition and Markets Authority, which had blocked the deal in April. However the CMA said on 11 June that it was prepared to negotiate with Microsoft over the deal.