Product reviews, deals and the latest tech news

Microsoft and Nintendo agree to a 10-year Call of Duty licencing agreement

Microsoft claims to have signed a 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty on Nintendo platforms in the event that its acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through. Xbox manufacturer has also promised to keep releasing new versions of Call of Duty on Steam at the same time they premiere on Xbox, making the contract comparable in duration to Microsoft’s pledge to Sony.

Microsoft president Brad Smith recently stated, “Sony has emerged as the loudest objector” to Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition, and that “it’s as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix.” This deal is clearly intended to put pressure on Sony to accept a similar offer.

Earlier this week, Microsoft stated that they had given Sony a 10-year deal to have new Call of Duty releases accessible on PlayStation on the same day that they appear on Xbox. This is a compromise that has been rumored for weeks as authorities have become more concerned about Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Smith tweeted soon after the Nintendo contract was announced that “any day Sony wants to sit down and speak, we’ll be delighted to work out a 10-year deal for PlayStation as well.”

The agreements from Nintendo and Valve were disclosed late Tuesday night by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, just before the company was scheduled to meet with the FTC behind closed doors on Wednesday. Today, FTC head Lina Khan and other commissioners are scheduled to meet with Microsoft president Brad Smith and other corporate officials.

According to recent rumours, the FTC is considering filing a legal challenge to prevent Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The European Union and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority are both investigating Microsoft for potential violations of their own regulations (CMA). However, the software developer has responded negatively to the CMA’s worries, calling them “misplaced” and accused the agency of adopting “Sony’s accusations without evaluating the possible harm to customers.”

Sony has been vocal with authorities about its worries for Call of Duty, and the public back-and-forth between Microsoft and Sony, along with regulators’ concerns, led to a recent 10-year promise to retain Call of Duty on PlayStation. According to Sony, Microsoft’s original proposal to retain Call of Duty on PlayStation for “many more years” beyond an existing marketing arrangement was “inadequate on many counts.” Sony has been quiet about Microsoft’s current 10-year deal.

Due to the longevity of the agreement, the Call of Duty franchise will not abruptly disappear from PlayStation or even Nintendo platforms once the first 10-year term of the contract ends. Spencer stated in a recent interview with Verge, “It’s not about at some time I yank the rug out from under PlayStation 7’s legs and it’s ‘ahaha you simply didn’t write the contract long enough.'” You can’t put “forever” in a contract.

To maintain Call of Duty on Steam, Valve co-founder and CEO Gabe Newell told Kotaku that a contract of this nature is unnecessary.

Microsoft offered and even sent us a draft agreement for a long-term Call of Duty commitment but it wasn’t necessary for us because a) we’re not believers in requiring any partner to have an agreement that locks them to shipping games on Steam into the distant future b) Phil and the games team at Microsoft have always followed through on what they told us they would do so we trust their intentions and c) we think Microsoft has all the motivation they need to be on the platforms and devices where Call of Duty customers want to be.