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Microsoft will keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for ‘years’ beyond existing deal

PlayStation Plus may be another matter, though

A close-up image of two heavily armed soldiers, wearing night-vision goggles, lit by torchlight at night Image: Infinity Ward/Activision Blizzard
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Microsoft has committed to keeping Call of Duty available on PlayStation for “several more years” after the existing marketing deal between Sony and Activision expires — assuming its acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes ahead.

Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer made the promise in writing to PlayStation president and CEO Jim Ryan earlier this year, according to a report by The Verge. Spencer confirmed the commitment in a statement to the Verge: “In January, we provided a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation, with feature and content parity, for at least several more years beyond the current Sony contract, an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements.”

Spencer has already made several public comments to the same general effect, noting the importance of the PlayStation community to Call of Duty, and comparing the game to Minecraft, which Microsoft has kept available on PlayStation and other platforms since its acquisition of Mojang in 2014. But this is the first such statement to guarantee the availability of Call of Duty on PlayStation beyond the terms of existing agreements, however vaguely.

Microsoft is keen not to portray its acquisition of Activision Blizzard as anti-competitive, as it undergoes close scrutiny from governments worldwide. So this is one leak Spencer and his team will have been quite happy to confirm.

But, responding to the concerns of the U.K.’s competition regulator last week, Spencer did say for the first time that Call of Duty games will be coming to the Xbox subscription service, Game Pass. Assuming they remain unavailable on rival products like PlayStation Plus — which seems likely — this could still be a quite a differentiator for Microsoft as it seeks to expand the concept of game platforms beyond the hardware used to play games in the home.

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