Sony has given its first public response to Microsoft’s agreed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and suggested that it expects many of the games that fall under the deal to remain available on PlayStation platforms.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson for Sony said: “We expect that Microsoft will abide by contractual agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are multiplatform.”
Activision publishes some of the best-selling games on PlayStation, including the Call of Duty series. Sony’s comments here suggest it expects Activision titles, such as Call of Duty, will stay on PlayStation after Microsoft’s acquisition has been finalized.
That sentiment has been echoed by Activision Blizzard, which says it has no intention of removing its existing games from PlayStation systems after the deal.
In a FAQ sent by Activision Blizzard to its employees, and available to read on the US Securities and Exchange Commission website, the publisher says it expects its current PlayStation content will not change.
“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.”
For several years, Sony has enjoyed an exclusivity agreement with Activision, which guarantees Playstation consoles receive exclusive Call of Duty content ahead of Xbox. This has included in-game bonuses for Call of Duty: Vanguard players on PS4 and PS5, a new game mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and a special Survival mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Sony hasn’t suggested for how long the exclusivity agreement will be in place, or what other “contractual agreements” might require Activision to continue publishing its games on PlayStation systems.
Analysis: multiplatform for now, but exclusivity is coming
These latest statements from Sony and Activision Blizzard mirror a comment that the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, made earlier in the week. In an interview with Bloomberg, Spencer 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.”
That should reassure players that the biggest Activision titles won’t immediately be stripped from PlayStation, and the publisher will continue to support those games that have already been released on the platform. How far that support extends in the future, however, is the million-dollar question. Microsoft will be keen to capture as many sales of Activision Blizzard’s games as possible, and making those titles exclusive to Xbox is the surest way of doing that.
It’s also worth remembering that a similar situation has already played out. Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda in 2020, it honored previous contractual agreements that made Deathloop exclusive titles to PlayStation. That put Microsoft in the strange position of publishing a game that hasn’t yet launched on its own consoles.
Later, it avoided making any direct commitments to future exclusivity arrangements, only to later announce that several upcoming Bethesda games will only be coming to Xbox and PC. Among them are the much-anticipated Starfield and Arkane’s open-world, co-op shooter Redfall.
We might expect a similar situation to play out here. Microsoft carries Call of Duty, and other Activision Blizzard franchises, on PlayStation for as long as they are contractually obliged, before pivoting to an exclusive model.