Making Call Of Duty Exclusive To Xbox Would Be "Disastrous," Microsoft President Says
Not allowing the deal to go through would "hurt competition, consumers, and thousands of game developers," Microsoft's president says.
Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in which the executive makes a claim for why he believes the deal is "good for gamers." Smith is obviously biased here, as Microsoft is financially motivated to help get the deal done, so his comments should be heard in that context first and foremost.
In his piece, Smith said the Federal Trade Commission's reported plan to sue Microsoft to block the proposed deal to buy Activision Blizzard would be a "huge mistake." Smith also confirmed reports that Microsoft offered Sony a 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.
Not allowing the deal to go through would "hurt competition, consumers, and thousands of game developers," Smith said.
In the piece, Smith went on to say that Microsoft's Xbox is "stuck" in third place in the console game market, behind PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. Smith also acknowledged that Microsoft has "no meaningful presence" in the mobile game space, which is the main reason Microsoft is trying to buy Activision Blizzard and take control of the Candy Crush series and others.
The mobile game category of the video game industry generates the most revenue and is the fastest-growing, Smith said. The executive said Google and Apple take a "significant portion" of mobile game revenue through their app store fees, and if Microsoft's deal to buy Activision Blizzard goes through, it could better compete with them.
"Acquiring Activision Blizzard would enable Microsoft to compete against these companies through innovation that would benefit consumers," Smith said. "While modern consumers can stream videos or music on multiple devices on low-cost subscription plans, many games can often only be individually purchased and downloaded onto one device. Microsoft wants to change that by offering consumers the option to subscribe to a cloud gaming service that lets them stream a variety of games on multiple devices for one reasonable fee. It would also benefit developers by allowing them to reach a much broader audience."
Smith added that Microsoft needs a more robust catalog of games to compete, and as it stands, the company "simply [doesn't] have enough."
In the opinion piece, Smith also mentioned that Sony has been the "largest objector" to Microsoft's proposed deal to buy Activision Blizzard due in part to the Call of Duty of it all. Microsoft plans to keep releasing Call of Duty on PlayStation, and has in fact offered Sony a 10-year contract to launch new Call of Duty games on PlayStation the same day as Xbox. Microsoft not putting Call of Duty on PlayStation would be "economically irrational," Smith said.
"Given the popularity of cross-play, it would also be disastrous to the Call of Duty franchise and Xbox itself, alienating millions of gamers," Smith said.
The executive said Microsoft is "open" to making this agreement also cover additional platforms and making it "legally enforceable" in the US, UK, and EU.
The New York Post recently reported that there is a rift inside the FTC, which could complicate matters. The deal has already been approved by regulators in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Serbia.