After purchasing Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, Microsoft said on Sunday that it had signed a legally binding agreement with Sony to guarantee that the Call of Duty video game franchise would continue to be available on Sony's PlayStation platform for 10 year. This easing concerns from Sony and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
This puts an end to the battle between the companies that has been waged both privately and publicly over the past year after Microsoft announced its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard in January 2022.
A tweet from Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming’s CEO, read: “We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and PlayStation have signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favourite games.”
In the United States, the FTC argued that the acquisition agreement would hurt consumers regardless of whether they played video games on the console or had subscriptions, because Microsoft would have an incentive to exclude competitors such as Sony Group.
However, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled on June 11: "The FTC has not shown that its argument that the combined company is likely to pull Call of Duty from Sony PlayStation or that its ownership of Activision's content will be significantly reduced is likely to succeed. Competition in the gaming library subscription and cloud gaming markets."
To address the FTC's concerns, Microsoft agreed to license Call of Duty to its competitors, including a 10-year deal with Nintendo that would require a merger.
On Sunday, Microsoft did not disclose the length of the agreement with Sony.
"Since day one of this acquisition, we've been committed to solving the problems of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers," Microsoft president Brad Smith said on Twitter.
"Even after we've crossed the finish line of approving this deal, we remain focused on making Call of Duty available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before."
Microsoft has a deadline of July 18 to complete the deal with Activision Blizzard, although both companies can extend that deadline if they wish.
EU regulators approved the purchase agreement in May, prompting an immediate protest from the British counterpart, the Competition and Markets Authority, which blocked the deal in April. However, the CMA announced on June 11 that it is ready to negotiate with Microsoft.