In a nutshell: Sony has recently expressed concern that if Call of Duty or other Activision games become exclusive to Microsoft’s platforms, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard could be detrimental to the market cause serious damage. Microsoft’s latest response refuted that claim, accusing Sony of being afraid of Game Pass and saying the PlayStation maker was hypocritical with its exclusivity deals.
This week, Microsoft sent Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) a lengthy defense of its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Mainly to say that Sony’s concerns about anti-competitive exclusivity practices are unfounded.
Last week, many major game companies, including Sony, responded to inquiries from CADE, one of many international companies. Competition regulators are reviewing Microsoft’s deal with Activision. Sony told CADE that it believes that Call of Duty will be irreplaceable if Microsoft stops development of the PlayStation version – no other developer or publisher can release a game that competes at the same level.
Microsoft disagrees and reiterates its intention to keep future Activision Blizzard games such as Call of Duty, Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 on the PlayStation. Furthermore, it claims that making such games exclusive will not attract enough new Xbox customers to make up for lost sales of the PlayStation version. Microsoft still supports the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch versions of Minecraft, admitting it’s bigger than the Xbox.
SONY and Microsoft vs CADE The comments raised the question of how much competition Call of Duty has. Its free-to-play battle royale mode — Warzone — has plenty of competitors, such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PUBG. It’s less clear when comparing rival games to Call of Duty’s other multiplayer modes or single-player campaigns. Battlefield is the most obvious competitor, but its latest title — Battlefield 2042 — lacks a single-player story and has been snubbed by players and critics alike.
Rainbow Six Siege is another popular military-themed multiplayer shooter, but its playstyle doesn’t perfectly overlap with Call of Duty. Microsoft highlights remarks made by other companies that question the usefulness of genre categories for CADE. For example, Overwatch might compete with Apex, Siege, Valorant, or Team Fortress 2 (the last two aren’t on PlayStation), though they’re all different combinations of hero shooters, tactical shooters, and battle royale games.
However, Sony isn’t saying that no other company can make a game like Call of Duty, just that they can’t replicate the Call of Duty brand. It’s easily the best-selling high-priced first-person shooter over the years (though its biggest competitor now is free-to-play).
Machine translation from Portuguese
Except for the statement that will not make Call of Duty In addition to being exclusive to Xbox in the short term, Microsoft is also clamoring for Sony’s deals to take games like Deathloop, Ghostwire Tokyo and Final Fantasy VII Remake off the Xbox. Deahtloop and Ghostwire are from Bethesda, which Microsoft acquired after Sony made these deals.
Microsoft also said that Sony was concerned that adding Call of Duty and Blizzard games to Game Pass would represent a “tipping point” that would lure customers away from retail PlayStation purchases. The company claims Sony is concerned that subscription services, which represent a new business model, threaten its dominance in traditional console game distribution.
Sony recently responded to the competition from Game Pass by completely reorganizing PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into multi-tier services. However, Microsoft hinted at Sony’s refusal to include its latest builds, like Horizon Forbidden West or Gran Turismo 7, in subscriptions, signaling its hesitancy to fully commit to a business model.
Furthermore, the Redmond company explained that acquiring Activision Blizzard would not give it a near-monopoly market share in any corner of the gaming industry. It claims it and Activision Blizzard each have no more than 10 percent of the game development pie. Also, while Microsoft has over 30% of the console game digital distribution market, Sony has over 50%.
The uniqueness and importance of Call of Duty in the market is debatable, but the acquisition of Activision Blizzard seems unlikely to give Microsoft an unfair advantage.