“Inadequate” Offer Shapes Call of Duty
The Activision purchase by Microsoft is one of the biggest tech purchases of all time. So naturally what people are getting really bent out of shape about is Call of Duty.
It’s been a perennial big seller for generations, despite the fact that nobody in the gaming sphere admits to actually buying it. And it’s popular with good reason: it just works. It’s smooth, it’s fun, the online usually works without any issues. No problems at all.
But now Microsoft will own the IP, people are getting very concerned about the future of Call of Duty. Forums that have barely any posts about the series are now getting very upset the massive vacuum it will leave behind on PlayStation. If it ever leaves – which Microsoft have been subtly implying it won’t.
All of this would have been fine, except for a mini-rant from Sony’s Jim Ryan that reads a little like a wine-fuelled Facebook diatribe against an unfaithful ex.
“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,” Ryan stated.
“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.”
We can pick it apart, but we wouldn’t be adding anything to it that hasn’t already been said time and time again. Yes, it’s rich for Sony to talk about not getting exclusivity. Indeed, that they are getting up and above the basic is more than they would do if the roles were reversed. Which they couldn’t be.
That’s not the point of this article. Instead this is about what the quote above means for the future of Call of Duty.
The Future of Call of Duty
Because realistically, this confirms that once the Activision purchase is completed, you can expect to carry on playing Call of Duty on PlayStation until the end of the generation. We don’t know all the details, as they’re private. But there were rumours that Sony would get three more titles in the franchise, including Warzone 2.
Ryan’s comments seem to imply that this will be extended once the deal is done, probably as a way for Microsoft to get it past regulators. They wouldn’t offer any more than they had to, and Call of Duty is a huge money spinner for Sony.
The implication is that there will come a point where Call of Duty is exclusive. And why not? The idea of “money on the table” is irrelevant. Activision doesn’t need to make its money back for Microsoft.
But will Jim Ryan’s rant hurt discussions?
On the face of it, it has to. Not only is there the thinly veiled attack on Phil Spencer, but there’s also the demand for far better terms from the deal. Why? Because they’re Sony. That’s it. That’s the offer.
But that’s on the face of it. This is all theatre. Phil Spencer is navigating one of the biggest tech acquisitions ever. Sony will lose money here, and will have no way of plugging that gap. Jim Ryan will face questions on that. Especially as his company leans heavily into the premium blockbuster experience – an expensive gamble.
Ultimately they will kiss and make-up, and the “deal” offered by Microsoft will be used to shape the franchise going forward. After that? All bets are off. If you’re a fan of Call of Duty, it’s time to get into the Xbox ecosystem.