Sony is concerned Microsoft could release a worse version of Call of Duty on PlayStation

Microsoft Activision deal

Microsoft, meanwhile, affirms there will be console parity

Sony is laying out concerns about Microsoft’s potential acquisition of Activision Blizzard. These include the chance that Microsoft may release a worse version of Call of Duty on PlayStation, though Microsoft claims it will maintain parity.

In a document submitted to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) filed in late February, as spotted by The Verge, Sony raises concerns about what Microsoft may do with Call of Duty. This includes concerns that Activision could even create a worse COD experience on a competitor’s console. Here’s the slice where Sony lays out this possibility:

“For example, Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty. Indeed, as Modern Warfare II attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue.”

Though this doesn’t quite allege intended sabotage, the concern seems to be that the PlayStation version would become second fiddle. Sony alleges that even if Microsoft were to operate in good faith, it would be incentivized to support and prioritize development of the Xbox version. Sony also other ways in which Call of Duty could skew towards Xbox, including the price of the series going up and making it available on a subscription service only through Game Pass. It concludes by saying that the transaction should be either prohibited, or subject to a “structural remedy.”

Answering the call

Microsoft responded in a statement to Eurogamer, saying that since the CMA issued its Provisional Findings, the company has offered solutions that address the concerns.

“These include a guarantee of parity between Xbox and PlayStation on access to Call of Duty and legally binding commitments to ensure that Call of Duty is available to at least 150 million more players on other consoles and cloud streaming platforms once the deal closes,” the Microsoft spokesperson said.

Additionally, the spokesperson adds in regard to the deal: “The decision now lies with the CMA on whether it will block this deal and protect Sony, the dominant market leader, or consider solutions that make more games available to more players.”

Eric Van Allen
Senior News Reporter