Activision creates some of PlayStation’s most successful games in the Call of Duty series. Last year, the series was both the first (Vanguard) and third (Black Ops Cold War) best-selling games on PlayStation in the US, according to NPD.
However, the future of the series on PS5 and PS4 was put into doubt following Microsoft’s announcement that it will acquire Activision Blizzard in a $70bn deal.
The publisher has had a long-standing content exclusivity agreement with PlayStation for the Call of Duty series, and it’s this Sony could be referring to in its latest statement. Such agreements likely cover multiple years.
2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came with a Special Ops Survival mode which was exclusive to PS4 for one year, while 2020’s Black Ops Cold War included a timed exclusive Zombies mode called Onslaught.
Activision Blizzard has said it has no intention of removing existing games from other platforms once it has been acquired.
According to a report from Bloomberg this week, Microsoft plans to keep making “some” of Activision Blizzard’s games for PlayStation consoles.
The publication also put the exclusivity question to Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer, who said: “I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remained committed to that.”
It’s worth noting that Spencer made similar comments prior to the completion of its $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda parent Zenimax.
However, while existing games such as The Elder Scrolls Online continue to be supported on PlayStation platforms, and existing exclusivity deals for Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo have been honoured, Microsoft has since confirmed Bethesda’s big future games such as Starfield, Redfall and The Elder Scrolls 6 will be exclusive to Xbox and PC.
Spencer said in March 2021 that delivering exclusive games for platforms that support Xbox Game Pass was the primary reason Microsoft acquired Bethesda.
However, 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.
Reacting to Microsoft’s plans, DFC Intelligence said in a research note: “Will this deal go through? Regulators will take a close look and franchises like Call of Duty may not be exclusive to Xbox platforms because of antitrust concerns.”