Microsoft President Brad Smith said that his company has offered its counterpart Sony a 10-year contract to make each new version of the Call of Duty game available on its gaming platform, the PlayStation, at the same time as it is released for the Xbox platform. subsidiary of Microsoft.
The US tech giant hopes the move will assuage concerns of regulators and its competitors about the monopoly that could result from its proposed $69 billion acquisition of Call of Duty developer Activision Blizzard.
Last month, Politico reported that the US Federal Trade Commission was likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision.
In response, Smith wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday that defended the takeover as “good for players” and criticized any potential FTC lawsuit. Of the reported lawsuit, he said: “That would be a huge mistake. It will hurt competition, consumers and thousands of game developers.”
Regulators in the European Union and the United Kingdom have opened antitrust investigations into the proposed Microsoft acquisition to see if the deal will harm competition. The European Union is concerned that Microsoft may block access to games such as Call of Duty to competitors.
And after Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision last January, Sony’s share prices fell, as investors feared that PlayStation would be deprived of Activision games. But Microsoft has since sought to allay those concerns.
Smith said any move to make Call of Duty unavailable for the PlayStation would be “economically inconsequential” because a vital portion of the game’s revenue comes from sales to Sony’s gaming platform.
“Given the popularity of cross-platform play, this would also be disastrous for Call of Duty and the Xbox itself, alienating millions of gamers,” he added.
Smith also said, “For this reason, we offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new Call of Duty installment available on PlayStation at the same time it is available for Xbox. We are open to making the same commitment to other platforms and making it legally enforceable by US, UK and EU regulators.”