Just how long can PlayStation owners expect to keep getting Call of Duty games following Microsoft’s likely purchase of Activision Blizzard? Microsoft has already agreed to bring the next couple titles in the franchise (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0) to PlayStation, and we recently learned that Xbox boss Phil Spencer offered an extension of this agreement for “several more years.”
Well, it seems that offer wasn’t warmly received. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has provided a statement of his own to GamesIndustry.biz, roasting Microsoft’s offer as “inadequate on many levels.” Apparently, Microsoft’s proposed deal was for only a relatively-modest three years. Beyond that, it isn’t clear what Ryan found so objectionable about the offer.
“I hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion, but I feel the need to set the record straight because Phil Spencer brought this into the public forum. Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends. After almost 20 years of Call of Duty on PlayStation, their proposal was inadequate on many levels and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers. We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle.”
While Ryan obviously didn't like Microsoft’s offer, he doesn’t mention whether or not he ultimately bit the bullet and agreed to it. If not, new CoD titles may leave PlayStation consoles sooner than expected.
That said, Sony may still have some bargaining power here. Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard is being scrutinized by regulators around the world, with the importance of Call of Duty being the main sticking point. In an odd twist of fate, this has led to Sony arguing CoD is “irreplaceable,” while Microsoft, who may soon own the franchise, insists it’s not. It’s pretty clear Microsoft’s offers to keep CoD on PlayStation temporarily is largely about getting their purchase of Activision approved by regulators. So, considering everything on the line, Sony may be able to hold out for something a bit better.
Activision Blizzard has faced a series of lawsuits and other legal action on the heels of a suit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty publisher. You can get more details on that unfolding story here.
What do you think? Should Sony be happy with three more years of Call of Duty? Or is now the time to play hardball?