It was announced this week that Microsoft intends to purchase Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal – the game industry’s biggest ever by some distance.
Giving Microsoft exclusive ownership of franchises including Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot and Guitar Hero, the deal is expected to be completed by June 2023.
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In an employee FAQ filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Activision outlined how the transaction will impact existing partner agreements such as those with PlayStation maker Sony, Google and Apple.
“We will honor all existing commitments post close,” it said. “As with Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft, we have no intent to remove any content from platforms where it exists today.”
In its first response to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Sony said it expects games to remain multiplatform due to existing contractual agreements.
Activision creates some of PlayStation’s most successful games in the form of the Call of Duty series. Last year, the franchise produced both the first (Vanguard) and third (Black Ops Cold War) best-selling games on PlayStation in the US, according to research firm NPD.
Microsoft reportedly plans to keep making “some” Activision Blizzard games for PlayStation consoles following the takeover, and Xbox head Phil Spencer has claimed that “it’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform”.
It’s worth noting however that Spencer made similar comments prior the completion of Microsoft’s $7.5 billion takeover of Bethesda parent company Zenimax last year.
While previously released Bethesda games such as The Elder Scrolls Online continue to be supported on PlayStation platforms, and pre-existing exclusivity deals for Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo have been honoured, Microsoft has since confirmed that the company’s big future games such as Starfield, Redfall and The Elder Scrolls 6 will be exclusive to Xbox and PC.
A games industry analyst has said Microsoft could struggle to gain regulatory approval for its Activision Blizzard takeover should it plan to make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive.