Following the announcement that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard for close to $70 billion, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has discussed the company’s planned distribution of Activision Blizzard’s games.
Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg (opens in new tab), he said: “I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remained committed to that.”
Spencer’s comment mirrors a previous statement he made in a press release (opens in new tab) announcing the acquisition. There, he said: "Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward."
However, the term ‘communities’ is notably vague, and neither Spencer nor Microsoft has explicitly outlined what will be supported on PlayStation in the future.
Microsoft may be willing to release every future Activision Blizzard title on Sony’s platform, or might only extend its support to existing games that have already been released on PlayStation.
Bloomberg also cites someone “familiar with the company’s thinking” who expects Microsoft will continue shipping Activision’s games for PlayStation, but make some content exclusive to Xbox. Just what forms the exclusives will take - whether full games or DLC - wasn’t clear or speculated upon.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda in 2020 provides a touchstone by which to assess the potential exclusivity of its newly-acquired titles. Although it had initially shied away from announcing upcoming games would not find their way to PlayStation, it’s since confirmed that some future releases would be exclusive to Xbox and PC. The much-anticipated Starfield, The Elder Scrolls 6, and Redfall are among them.
Analysis: expect more Xbox exclusives
When it comes to the future of Xbox exclusivity, Microsoft has been nothing but coy. Although PlayStation players will be keen to know whether they can expect the annual Call of Duty title or future Diablo and Overwatch entries on their platform of choice, Microsoft is keeping its cards to its chest.
It’s a familiar process, and one that largely mirrors Microsoft’s response to its acquisition of Bethesda two years ago: buy a major publisher, avoid the question of exclusivity immediately after, and quietly announce several months later that future releases will only be coming to Xbox and PC.
It might be wise to expect a similar outcome here. Although Call of Duty is a humongous brand that enjoys a huge player base on PlayStation, Starfield is equally a massive upcoming title that can bank on immediate interest at launch. If Microsoft is willing to take the sales hit to make Starfield an exclusive, maybe Call of Duty will also be an Xbox-only series somewhere down the line.
Microsoft looks most concerned with shoring up Xbox Game Pass, however, ensuring it provides as much value as possible before a PlayStation alternative arrives. Spencer’s already publicly said he expects Sony to release a Game Pass-style rival, and what better way for Xbox to get ahead than by nabbing some of the biggest series for themselves.
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