You can finally relax, PlayStation fans: Call of Duty going nowhere—at least not anytime soon. In an attempt to convince regulators to approve his Acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billionMicrosoft promised today to bring ahead Call of Duty releases and other Activision / Blizzard games at PS5 and nintendo switchand revealed new app store principles designed to empower developers and gamers alike.
Microsoft is committed to providing Call of Duty and other “other popular Activision Blizzard titles” to Sony’s console for the duration of existing agreements. We already knew Microsoft wouldn’t disrupt any existing deals, but now the company says these games will continue to be available on competing platforms after any deal and “in the future.”
In the words of Microsoft President and Vice Chairdresser Brad Smith:
“To be clear, Microsoft will continue to do Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available on PlayStation during the term of any existing agreement with Activision. And we’ve made a commitment to Sony to also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and in the future so Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love. We are also interested in taking similar action to support Nintendo’s successful platform.
Many believed that Microsoft would lock in its ongoing purchase of Activision Blizzard by making the developer’s games exclusive to Xbox and PC. This might still be true for some titles, but Call of Duty– one of the most successful gaming franchises in history – will remain on the PS5 for the foreseeable future. Smith said Microsoft would take the same approach with Nintendo, stating: “We think it’s the right thing for the industry, for the players, and for our business.
The announcement should be welcomed by the gaming community, although Smith’s somewhat vague statements are nothing but reassuring. Nothing here says that Microsoft is committed to bringing all The Blizzard Activision game on Switch and PS5, and it also doesn’t give a firm timeline for cross-platform support.
The company has also pledged to compile a list of “Open App Store Principles” in a clear effort to convince regulators to approve its acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard. These principless, which focus on security, accountability, fairness and transparency, and developer choice, make it clear to lawmakers where Microsoft stands in the legal debate around third-party app stores.
Be part of the business’s efforts appear the reception of competition is the ability for developers to use their own payment system to process in-app payments and a promise not to use non-public data from its app store to compete with developer apps. Microsoft is also committed to keeping its own apps to the same standards as those built by others.
“Too much friction exists today between creators and players; App store policies and practices on mobile devices limit what and how creators can offer games and what and how players can play them,” Smith wrote. “Our significant investment to acquire Activision Blizzard further strengthens our resolve to remove this friction on behalf of creators and gamers. We want to make it easier for world-class content to reach every gamer across all platforms.
These assurances are in direct response to the messy feud between Apple and Epic Games, the studio behind fortnite. These two juggernauts battled it out in court, and while Apple wasn’t considered a monopoly, it violated antitrust law and was issued a permanent injunction stating that Apple could no longer prevent developers from directing users to third-party payment options.
Microsoft is being uncharacteristically transparent about its intentions to convince regulators, who will ultimately decide whether the $68.7 billion purchase of gaming giant Activision Blizzard complies with antitrust laws.
“We developed these principles in part to respond to Microsoft’s growing role and responsibility as we begin the process of obtaining regulatory approval in capitals around the world for our acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This regulatory process begins as many governments also move forward with new laws to promote competition in app markets and beyond,” Smith wrote.
Smith conceded that only some of the principles would be applied immediately in part because app store legislation is not written for game consoles. Principles one to seven (all except those under “Developer’s Choice”) would go into effect while the “spirits” of the others would be incorporated into new laws while the company “closed the gap” on the remaining principles.
The Federal Trade Commission, which has promised more aggressive action to stifle deals deemed anti-competitive, is reviewing Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard rather than the Justice Department, according to Bloomberg.