Sony announced in January 2022 that Bungie had joined the PlayStation family, calling the Destiny dev a world-class group that could build incredible worlds to captivate millions of people, but now, it seems to be treating the studio like a bit of a red-headed stepchild. In a new document that includes some of the PlayStation maker’s latest comments concerning the CMA’s findings on Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Sony made the claim that it wouldn’t be able to cope with losing Call of Duty, as it only has one other main shooter franchise, Destiny, which it described as being “significantly less impactful,” with redacted figures that allude to substantially less gameplay hours and game spending. Elsewhere, Sony called its development experience of FPS games “limited” and claimed that it would be “impossible” for it to create something that could come close to Call of Duty.
From a “SIE Observations on the CMA’s Provisional Findings” document dated March 1, 2023:
SIE cannot protect against the loss of Call of Duty. Given the importance of Call of Duty, SIE cannot effectively protect against a Microsoft foreclosure strategy. In particular:
- SIE’s recent development experience of shooter/battle royale games is limited and its main active shooter franchise is significantly less impactful than Call of Duty. Destiny, SIE’s main active first-person shooter franchise, had only [redacted] of the gameplay hours and [redacted] of the game spend of Call of Duty in 2021.
- While there may be a wide range of studios that may help SIE produce hit titles, producing one as durable and successful as Call of Duty would be close to impossible. As the CMA notes, “there are few franchises as enduring and as significant in terms of PlayStation’s revenue and gameplay time” and that new titles have “a low chance of success” (PFs, para. 7.235).
- Even for its most important first-party titles, SIE’s development costs are small in comparison to Call of Duty. God of War: Ragnarök, SIE’s biggest ever first-party title, had a total development cost of $[redacted] million spread over [redacted] years (with an average annual investment of $[redacted] million). More generally, across its nine most recently released and upcoming first-party titles (which have either sold or are expected to sell more than [redacted] million copies in aggregate) the average annual development cost was around $[redacted] million. By contrast, Activision has reportedly spent around $300 million on each annual release of Call of Duty.