Microsoft and Sony signed an agreement to keep Call of Duty games on PlayStation consoles. As a reminder, Microsoft offered to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. And yet, 18 months after the announcement, that acquisition hasn’t closed as several competition regulators have been concerned about the consequences on the gaming market.
That’s why today’s deal between Sony and Microsoft is an important milestone in this M&A saga. “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,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer wrote on Twitter.
“From Day One of this acquisition, we’ve been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers. Even after we cross the finish line for this deal’s approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before,” Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith also wrote on Twitter.
Regulators have been concerned that Microsoft would only release Activision Blizzard titles on Xbox consoles (and potentially PCs) after the merger. In February, Microsoft signed a 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring Xbox games to Nintendo consoles, including Call of Duty games.
Shortly after that, the company also announced 10-year agreements with cloud gaming services, such as GeForce Now and Boosteroid. While the European Commission approved the merger, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the acquisition due to concerns for the cloud gaming market as Microsoft also maintains Windows, the leading desktop operating system, and operates a “significant cloud infrastructure.”
But now, Sony has finally agreed to sign a deal with Microsoft to bring some of Microsoft’s games to Sony consoles. Unlike the other agreements with Nintendo and cloud gaming services, Microsoft only mentions Call of Duty titles. The Verge confirmed with Microsoft that it is a 10-year commitment.
Sony has been reluctant to sign an agreement with Microsoft as the PlayStation maker hoped that authorities would block the acquisition of Activision Blizzard altogether.
Last week, a federal judge denied a preliminary injunction request from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If Microsoft can find some form of resolution with the CMA, that court order should likely clear the way for the acquisition.
That’s likely why Sony changed its stance on a Call of Duty deal. There should be more news from Microsoft, the FTC and the CMA in the coming days.