When Microsoft announced its intention to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, it didn’t take long for the industry to sense that if the acquisition were approved, Call of Duty would arrive to Xbox Game Pass. Although this would be the main objective of those from Redmond, there is a previous agreement between Sony and Activision that would make it difficult to make this significant move; at least in the short term…
Thanks to the regulatory process that various countries are carrying out around the Microsoft purchase proposal, we have been able to discover information that is rarely made public. In a document that collects VGCthe American company mentions:
“The agreement between Activision Blizzard and Sony includes restrictions on Activision Blizzard’s ability to put Call of Duty titles on Game Pass for multiple years.”
Therefore, even if regulators give the green light to Microsoft’s purchase of Activision, the latter could not launch the games Call of Duty on Xbox Game Pass. The reason is very simple: there is a legal contract that must be respected.
In fact, Microsoft is no stranger to this type of situation. When they bought Bethesda, the publisher was developing deathloop, an exclusive —temporary— title for the PS5. Consequently, they were forced to respect the agreement signed between Sony and Bethesda. In the case of Call of Duty exactly the same would have to happen.
What we do not know is what is the period agreed between Sony and Activision. Those led by Phil Spencer, unfortunately, did not mention a specific time.
Perhaps another question you have right now is: Why does Sony have interference in a franchise like Call of Duty? For several years, specifically since the previous generation, both companies have partnered to promote the shooter on the PlayStation platform. It is for this reason that, in recent years, Call of Duty they usually offer exclusive content on PS4 and PS5. Without going any further, the beta of Modern Warfare 2 it was previously playable on Sony consoles.
Be careful, because this was not always the case. At the time of the Xbox 360, and part of the Xbox One generation, it was Microsoft that had a partnership with Activision for Call of Duty. The problem is that the Xbox One had a much lower sales rate than expected, and Activision preferred to go to the house across the street.
By disclosing this restriction, Microsoft is surely hoping that the CMA, the UK’s regulatory body, will lessen its concerns about the future of Microsoft. Call of Duty. At least initially, we will not see it on Xbox Game Pass.