With Microsoft having won its anti-trust case with the US Federal Trade Commission, its planned acquisition of Call of Duty developers Activision Blizzard has taken a big step closer to becoming a reality. In order to alleviate the concerns of monopoly-building that got Microsoft in legal hot water to begin with, the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, announced yesterday via Tweet that it has entered into an "agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation."
This agreement will no doubt come as a relief to fans concerned that Microsoft's acquisition plans might result in Call of Duty becoming an Xbox exclusive, following in the footsteps of future Bethesda releases. Since Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda caused the studio to break its tradition of offering titles cross-platform for upcoming sci-fi RPG Starfield, it's safe to say that there's been some concern as to whether or not the same fate would befall Activision Blizzard's own titles, should the merger go ahead.
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.July 16, 2023
That said, Microsoft is not out of the woods yet. In the US, the FTC has appealed its court loss, while the UK's decision to block the deal still stands, despite Microsoft's own appeals. Even the acquisition's approval by the EU was subject to significant caveats over cloud gaming.
This is also not Microsoft's first Call of Duty-related deal to mollify monopolization concerns. Microsoft entered a historic agreement with Nintendo, promising to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo consoles. When giving testimony during the FTC case, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, a somewhat controversial figure, stated, "We will likely make a Call of Duty game for a new Nintendo console", suggesting that Activision intends to adhere to the terms of the agreement.
Though these agreements do much to alleviate concerns about Microsoft establishing a Call of Duty monopoly, there are still unanswered questions about Cloud Gaming. According to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, Xbox Game Pass accounts for potentially 70% of the cloud gaming market share. It runs a risk of damaging competition should this share increase, "leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years to come".
While this new announcement bodes well for Call of Duty fans, eyes are still on Microsoft to see how it will respond to concerns in the cloud gaming space.
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Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.
Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure.
Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.