In a new filing to the UK’s competition regulator, Microsoft said that Sony has been stopping the Call of Duty franchise. Sony hasn’t added COD to Xbox Games Pass for “a number of years.”
What is the central rift?
A filing to the Brazilian regulator CADE looked into Microsoft’s plan to buy Activision Blizzard. It was one of the first competition watchdogs to approve the deal. Microsoft said that Sony had paid developers for “blocking rights”. Moreover, this will refrain their games from being added to Xbox Game Pass. This was made public in August.
In a filing to the UK’s CMA, the company clarified that this only applies to the Call of Duty games. The tech giant says that as part of its current deal with Activision for the Call of Duty series. Sony prevents the shooter franchise from being put on Xbox Game Pass. Moreover, they have been doing so for several years.
What is the problem between Microsft and Sony?
This was expected since there has been no Call of Duty games on Xbox Game Pass. However, Microsoft seems to be using this against Sony and its problems with the deal between Microsoft and Activision.
The deal between Sony and Activision is likely to last until 2024. Jim Ryan, the head of PlayStation, said that Microsoft went to Sony and offered to keep the deal going for three more years. On the other hand, Ryan said that this offer was “inadequate in many ways.”
What was Microsoft’s take on this?
In a footnote to the main text, Microsoft’s response refers to Phil Spencer’s tweet from January 20, 2022. He said that Microsoft planned to “honour all existing agreements” when it bought Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft then says that the current deal with Activision Blizzard and Sony “limits Activision Blizzard’s ability to put Call of Duty games on Game Pass for a number of years.”
But Microsoft chose to include this detail to show that it thinks COD’s possible future inclusion in Game Pass could be a problem for the CMA’s approval of the takeover bid. One idea here is that even if Microsoft wanted to.
It might not be able to add COD games to Game Pass. It could also be seen as evidence that Sony already had that power. Sony can decide which games are included in subscriptions that Microsoft has been accused of having.
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