Microsoft responds to Sony's Call of Duty concerns

Heidi Nicholas - August 11th 2022

Microsoft has now responded to the concerns raised by Sony about the consequences of Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

As part of Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Sony claimed that Xbox owning Call of Duty "could influence users' console choice." Microsoft has in turn refuted these claims, and argued that Sony's concern "is incoherent, to say the least."

Microsoft aims to refute Sony's COD concerns

The document Microsoft sent to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) (transcribed by VGC), claims that, “Considering that exclusivity strategies have been at the core of Sony’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the games industry, and that Sony is a leader in the distribution of digital games, Sony’s concern with possible exclusivity of Activision‘s content is incoherent, to say the least... It only reveals, once again, a fear about an innovative business model that offers high-quality content at low costs to gamers, threatening a leadership that has been forged from a device-centric and exclusivity-focused strategy over the years.”

Also transcribed by VCG, Microsoft adds that Sony “is resentful of having to compete with Microsoft’s subscription service." Microsoft's response also refutes Sony's implication that the Call of Duty series is its own category of games: "Stating that Call of Duty has a loyal following is a premise from which does not follow from the conclusion that the game is a ‘gaming category per se’... Sony’s own PlayStation, incidentally, has an established base of loyal brand players. Such a finding, however, does not lead to the conclusion that the PlayStation — or any branded product with loyal consumers — is a separate market from all other consoles. Extrapolating from such a finding to the extreme conclusion that Call of Duty is a ‘category of games per se’ is simply unjustifiable under any quantitative or qualitative analysis.”

Microsoft also argues that Call of Duty will still be available to PlayStation players, and adds (as noted by VGC) “Regardless of how unsurprising Sony‘s criticism of content exclusivity is — given that PlayStation’s entire strategy has been centred on exclusivity over the years — the reality is that the strategy of retaining Activision Blizzard’s games by not distributing them in rival console shops would simply not be profitable for Microsoft." The company points out that keeping Call of Duty for itself would only make sense financially if they were to sway enough people to buy Xbox consoles and to sell enough games that it would "offset the losses from not distributing such games on rival consoles." This is particularly interesting considering Activision's plans for the future compared to its perception of its past: Activision admitted Call of Duty: Vanguard "didn't meet [its] expectations", but still has a firm belief that Modern Warfare's sequel will be "the most advanced experience in franchise history".

In other COD news, we know that Call of Duty's "future" is to be revealed at the Call of Duty: Next showcase.

What do you think of Microsoft's comments? Let us know in the comments!