Cutting words as Activision merger continues to mire
Xbox Head of Gaming Phil Spencer raised eyebrows this weekend with sharp remarks aimed at rivals Sony PlayStation — In an interview with the Second Request podcast, Spencer opined that the way PlayStation grows its brand is by shrinking the perceived size of the Xbox zeitgeist.
“Sony is trying to protect its dominance on the console. The way they grow is by making Xbox smaller,” said Spencer (as noted by VGC). “[Sony] has a very different view of the industry than we do. They don’t ship their games day and date on PC, they do not put their games into their subscription [service] when they launch their games.”
Spencer’s candid comments come at a particularly stressful time for the Xbox brand, which continues to hit wall after wall in parent company Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to purchase studio giant Activision Blizzard. While the deal was initially announced one year ago, Microsoft is still yet to close, having found opposition from global antitrust regulators as well as loud and undying opposition from Sony itself.
“Sony is leading the dialogue around why the deal shouldn’t go through,” continues Spencer. “The largest console maker in the world raising an objection about the one franchise [Call of Duty] that we’ve said will continue to ship on the platform. It’s a deal that benefits customers through choice and access.”
As noted by Spencer, at the center of the merger stalemate lies Activision billion-dollar franchise Call of Duty, essentially The Golden Goose of gaming. Xbox had previously offered PlayStation a guaranteed three years of continued licensing for future CoD titles, but the offer was rejected, with PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan openly calling it “inadequate on many levels”. Spencer also announced that, should the merger complete, Call of Duty will return to Nintendo platforms, seemingly wishing to curry favor from that particular demograph.
The strangest thing about this whole endeavor is, for many years now, PlayStation and Xbox have offered up the image that they are pretty buddy-buddy — friendly rivals that are totes proud of each other’s accomplishments. But, with the money on the table and the fate of Call of Duty in the balance, clearly the familiar commentary of the ’90s console wars is starting to rear its ugly head once again.