Microsoft Swears Call of Duty Won’t Be Exclusive to Xbox

Microsoft Swears Call of Duty Won’t Be Exclusive to Xbox

You can finally relax, PlayStation fans: Call of Duty isn’t going anywhere — at least not anytime soon. In an attempt to convince regulators to approve its $US68.7 ($95) billion Activision Blizzard acquisition, Microsoft promised today to bring upcoming Call of Duty releases and other Activision/Blizzard games to the PS5 and Nintendo Switch, and revealed new app store principles designed to put more power in the hands of developers and gamers.

Microsoft has committed to bringing Call of Duty and other “other popular Activision Blizzard titles” to Sony’s console for the term of existing agreements. We already knew Microsoft wouldn’t disrupt any existing deals, but now the company says these games will continue to be available across competing platforms after any agreements and “into the future.”

In the words of Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith:

“To be clear, Microsoft will continue to make Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available on PlayStation through the term of any existing agreement with Activision. And we have committed to Sony that we will also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future so that Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love. We are also interested in taking similar steps to support Nintendo’s successful platform.”

Many assumed Microsoft would lock down its pending purchase of Activision Blizzard by making the developer’s games exclusive to Xbox and PC. That could still be true of some titles, but Call of Duty — one of the most successful gaming franchises in history — will remain on the PS5 for the foreseeable future. Smith said Microsoft will take the same approach with Nintendo, stating: “We believe this is the right thing for the industry, for gamers, and for our business.”

The announcement should be welcomed by the gaming community, though Smith’s somewhat vague statements are only so reassuring. Nothing here says Microsoft is committed to bringing every Blizzard Activision game to Switch and PS5, nor does it give any firm timelines for multi-platform support.

The company also committed to a list of “Open App Store Principles” in a clear effort to convince regulators to approve its acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard. These tenets, which are focused around safety, accountability, fairness and transparency, and developer choice, make it clear to lawmakers where Microsoft stands in the legal debate around third-party app stores.

Part the company’s efforts to appear welcoming of competition is the ability for developers to use their own payment system to process in-app payments and a promise to not use any non-public data from its app store to compete with developers’ apps. Microsoft also pledged to hold its own apps to the same standards as those built by others.

“Too much friction exists today between creators and gamers; app store policies and practices on mobile devices restrict what and how creators can offer games and what and how gamers can play them,” Smith wrote. “Our large investment to acquire Activision Blizzard further strengthens our resolve to remove this friction on behalf of creators and gamers alike. We want to enable world-class content to reach every gamer more easily across every platform.”

These assurances are in direct response to the messy feud between Apple and Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite. Those two juggernauts duked it out in court, and while Apple was deemed to not be a monopoly, it did violate antitrust law and was issued a permanent injunction stating that Apple could no longer prevent developers from directing users to third-party payment options.

Microsoft is being unusually transparent about its intentions to convince regulators, who will ultimately decide whether the $US68.7 ($95) billion purchase of gaming giant Activision Blizzard is in compliance with antitrust laws.

“We have developed these principles in part to address Microsoft’s growing role and responsibility as we start the process of seeking regulatory approval in capitals around the world for our acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This regulatory process begins while many governments are also moving forward with new laws to promote competition in app markets and beyond,” Smith wrote.

Smith conceded that only some of the principles would be applied immediately in part because app store legislation is not written for gaming consoles. Principles one through seven (all but those under “Developer Choice”) would go into effect while the “spirit” of the others would be incorporated into new laws while the company “closes the gap” on the remaining principles.

The Federal Trade Commission, which has vowed more aggressive actions to snuff out deals deemed to be anti-competitive, is reportedly reviewing Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard rather than the Department of Justice, according to Bloomberg.

Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.