Microsoft has definitely offered Sony a 10-year contract to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation, according to Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, who has written an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal titled “Microsoft’s Activision-Blizzard Acquisition Is Good for Gamers” (alternate link) in which he states that the Windows maker has offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new Call of Duty game available on PlayStation the same day it comes to Xbox.
” […] we’ve offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new “Call of Duty” release available on PlayStation the same day it comes to Xbox,” Smith confirmed. “We’re open to providing the same commitment to other platforms and making it legally enforceable by regulators in the U.S., U.K. and European Union. Microsoft made a similar commitment to the European Commission when we acquired LinkedIn in 2016, ensuring access to key technologies for competing services.”
Elsewhere in the article, Smith claims that Microsoft actually faces huge challenges in the gaming industry, with Xbox remaining “in third place in console gaming, stuck behind Sony’s dominant PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch” and how the company has “no meaningful presence” in the mobile gaming industry.
Acquiring Activision Blizzard would allow Microsoft to compete against these companies through innovation that would benefit consumers, Smith believes:
While modern consumers can stream videos or music on multiple devices on low-cost subscription plans, many games can often only be individually purchased and downloaded onto one device. Microsoft wants to change that by offering consumers the option to subscribe to a cloud gaming service that lets them stream a variety of games on multiple devices for one reasonable fee. It would also benefit developers by allowing them to reach a much broader audience.
Smith goes on to compare Sony with what was one of the biggest entertainment brands back in the day:
It’s as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix. The main supposed potential anticompetitive risk Sony raises is that Microsoft would stop making “Call of Duty” available on the PlayStation. But that would be economically irrational. A vital part of Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty” revenue comes from PlayStation game sales. Given the popularity of cross-play, it would also be disastrous to the “Call of Duty” franchise and Xbox itself, alienating millions of gamers.
Reports of Microsoft having offered Sony a 10-year contract to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation initially emerged from an article by The New York Times about how Big Tech is trying to get even bigger.