Documents submitted to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by Sony indicate the firm is worried Microsoft could intentionally release a subpar version of Call of Duty on PlayStation should the Activision Blizzard acquisition be approved.
As reported by The Verge, Sony also presupposes Microsoft could raise the price of Call of Duty, or make it only available through Game Pass. But it is mainly concerned the firm would purposely put out a buggy or error-prone version of the game so that fans would choose Xbox over PlayStation.
“Microsoft could deploy multiple strategies to fully or partially foreclosure access to Activision content,” reads one of the documents.
“In addition to withholding access to existing or future Call of Duty titles, Microsoft could adopt one or several partial foreclosure strategies to impair PlayStation’s competitiveness.
“These strategies could include: raising the price of Call of Duty on PlayStation; degrading the quality and performance of Call of Duty on PlayStation compared to Xbox; degrading Call of Duty to ignore PlayStation-specific features (better controller haptics) or not prioritizing investment in such features; restricting, degrading, or not prioritizing investment in the multiplayer experience on PlayStation; making Call of Duty only available on Game Pass.”
The document further states that Microsoft: “might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty.
“Indeed, as Modern Warfare 2 attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favorite game at a second-class or less competitive venue.”
It seems there is more to it than Call of Duty, as apparently Sony, in gerneral, does not want Microsoft to own a major developer such as Activision Blizzard.
This is according to a comment said to have been made by Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan, who allegedly stated Sony isn’t interested in a Call of Duty deal.
Per Activision’s chief communication officer and executive vice president Lulu Cheng Meservey, Ryan said as much during a meeting in Brussels on February 21.
According to Meservey, “Microsoft offered Sony (the dominant console leader for well over a decade, with 80% market share) a 10-year agreement on far better terms than Sony would ever get from [Activision].”
“[Microsoft] also offered Sony guaranteed long-term access to Call of Duty, but they keep refusing. Why? The CEO of SIE answered that question in Brussels. In his words: “I don’t want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger.””
Such a comment may seem odd, considering over the years, Sony has had exclusivity agreements with many studios and publishers, not to mention the firm has had long-standing exclusivity agreements with Activision on Call of Duty. This has come via timed-exclusive maps, content, and completely exclusive wardrobe items.
Most recently, Modern Warfare 2 players received a Battle Pass Bundle Bonus with an additional five tier skips, extra Loadouts, exclusive Monthly Double XP events, a free in-game combat bundle each season which includes items such as an Operator Skin, Weapon Blueprint, Emblem, etcetera.
There are also PlayStation exclusive third-party titles blocked from Xbox. These include Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Bloodborne, Final Fantasy 16, and the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remaster from Bloober Team. Surely, there are more we cannot recall at present.
As far as Microsoft intentionally releasing a buggy version of Call of Duty on PlayStation is concerned, that would do nothing but harm the company. It’s all about making money, and why would you hurt your bottom line in such a way?
It’s hard to imagine any company doing something so foolhardy. It takes money to make games, and companies want not only to recoup development costs but earn a substantial profit. Plus, if PlayStation does indeed hold an 80% share of the market, as Microsoft attests, it would be imprudent to knowingly sabotage a game like Call of Duty on PlayStation and risk losing a major source of revenue on a game that makes money hands over fist yearly. It would be detrimental and foolish.