Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer says Call of Duty, one of the most popular first-person shooter franchises to ever be made in gaming history, will remain on the consoles of its direct competitor, Sony PlayStation.
Microsoft has had quite a turbulent couple of years, but they seem to be working towards making gaming better, if not outright bringing it closer to all types of gamers; even if you don’t own an Xbox. One of the biggest shake ups in recent Xbox history is the software giant’s attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
It’s an unprecedented deal which, if completed, would see Microsoft pay $70 billion to acquire nearly the entirety of Activision’s studios and franchises, which includes Call of Duty. Microsoft believes that it is only a matter of time until the deal is completed and already has plans for how they want to go about their new studios and IPs.
Fans of Call of Duty who don’t exclusively play it on Xbox have been afraid that the franchise will become exclusive to the Xbox platform. It’s an informed assumption to make, in which no player will ever get to see Captain Price and his magnificent mustache ever on a PlayStation console again.
But Spencer says that’s not the case. During an interview with tech and gaming podcast, Same Brain, Spencer told hosts Justine and Jenna Ezarik that Microsoft intends to keep the games on PlayStation consoles for “as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to.”
“We’re not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation. I know that—which isn’t exactly what you asked, but just to like punch that one in the nose, that’s not our intent,” Spencer states. “Our intent is not to do that, and as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we’d continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation, similar to what we’ve done with Minecraft since we’ve owned that.”
Microsoft purchased Mojang and its intellectual property Minecraft for $2.5 billion back in 2014. To this day, Minecraft has remained as a multiplatform gaming experience for all who love and play Minecraft.
“We’ve expanded the places where people can play Minecraft, we haven’t reduced the places, and it’s been good. It’s been good for the Minecraft community—my opinion—and I want to do the same as we think about where Call of Duty can go over the years.”
Our editor Matthew Arcilla says it is worth noting that these latest remarks are part of a longer progression and recalibration of what has been originally said about Call of Duty. At first, Spencer said he would “honor” all existing agreements between Activision and Sony. That lack of commitment was roundly criticized.
Spencer went on to issue a statement to the Verge saying that there was a deal in place to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation for several years beyond the current contract, “an offer that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreement.”
PlayStation boss Jim Ryan took issue with Spencer’s remarks, which characterized the deal as generous. Ryan told GI.Biz that “several years” was actually a mere three years, and that this was “inadequate on many levels.” Ryan said this was a private business discussion but felt the need to set the record straight.
Spencer’s comments on Same Brain suggest a revision of that promise, to some degree an expansion, especially in the face of continuing scrutiny from regulatory bodies that could feel compelled to block the deal if it isn’t convinced by the many arguments that Microsoft is offering to defend it from criticisms of anti-competitiveness.
Spencer also touches on the topic of Game Pass and how the acquisition could affect it, stating: “For Xbox itself, players who have invested in our console, I think the biggest addition that you’re going to see is some great games coming to Game Pass,” Spencer said. “This isn’t going to be about pulling, as I said, those communities off of other platforms, but I want to be a great place for people to see those games.”
It’s nice to see Spencer revising his commitment publicly. Knowing Spencer can make these statements publicly means Microsoft has to stand behind these decisions. In other news around Xbox, recent reports indicate that Xbox Game Pass has failed to hit its growth target for a second year in a row, and you can read more about it here.