Sony Is Afraid Microsoft Will Sabotage Call of Duty Games on PlayStation with Bugs

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Image: Activision

Sony has already provided numerous arguments as to why it thinks Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard should be blocked, but the latest appears to be the PlayStation maker’s most amusing yet. According to a portion of a new document from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, Sony is now worried about how Microsoft could force PlayStation owners to make the switch to Xbox by purposely releasing inferior versions of Call of Duty on PS consoles, featuring bugs and other errors. Microsoft has responded to Sony’s worries, assuring everyone that there will be parity between the Xbox and PlayStation versions.

“Since the CMA issued its Provisional Findings, we have offered solutions which address its concerns and increase the deal’s benefits to UK players and game developers,” Microsoft wrote in a statement to Eurogamer. “These include a guarantee of parity between Xbox and PlayStation on access to Call of Duty and legally binding commitments to ensure that Call of Duty is available to at least 150 million more players on other consoles and cloud streaming platforms once the deal closes.”

“The decision now lies with the CMA on whether it will block this deal and protect Sony, the dominant market leader, or consider solutions that make more games available to more players,” the company added.

From a Eurogamer report:

A new document from 22nd February 2023 has been released containing Sony’s observations on remedies from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. One section in particular is focused on the “different mechanisms available to Microsoft to avoid its obligations” concerning the Call of Duty franchise.

In short, this is Sony’s view on how Microsoft could withhold access to existing or future Call of Duty games to “impair PlayStation’s competitiveness”.

The strategies Sony suggests include: raising the price of Call of Duty on PlayStation; degrading the quality and performance of the game on PlayStation compared to Xbox; degrading the game to ignore PlayStation-specific features; restricting, degrading, or not prioritising investment in CoD multiplayer on PlayStation; and making the game available on a subscription service only on Game Pass.

“For example, Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty,” reads the document.

“Post-Transaction, Microsoft will need to make choices about the support it will provide to develop any PlayStation version of Call of Duty. Even if Microsoft operated in good faith, it would be incentivised to support and prioritise development of the Xbox version of the game, such as by using its best engineers and more of its resources,” reads the document.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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