Xbox boss Phil Spencer is once again promising a long-term commitment to keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation amid Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Speaking with Nilay Patel on The Verge‘s Decoder podcast, Spencer claimed that Call of Duty would remain on PlayStation “for as long as players want.” There’s been uncertainty as to what would happen with the multiplatform first-person shooter franchise should the acquisition be completed. Spencer has previously pledged to keep Call of Duty for “at least several more years” past what’s required in Activision’s existing deal with PlayStation, but PlayStation boss Jim Ryan called this offer “inadequate on many levels.” Others noted that a commitment isn’t the same as a legally-binding contract.
On the Decoder podcast, though, Spencer explained that no contract would be for “forever,” hence why he keeps saying he’s open to renegotiations with PlayStation.
“It’s not about at some point I pull the rug underneath PlayStation 7’s legs and it’s ‘ah ha,’ you just didn’t write the contract long enough,” said Spencer. “There’s no contract that could be written that says forever. This idea that we would write a contract that says the word forever in it I think is a little bit silly, but to make a longer-term commitment that Sony would be comfortable with, regulators would be comfortable with, I have no issue with that at all.”
When Patel pointed out that availability can come in multiple forms, given the prevalence of cloud gaming, Spencer stressed that these would be “native” versions of Call of Duty.
“Native Call of Duty on PlayStation, not linked to them having to carry Game Pass, not streaming,” Spencer said. “If they want a streaming version of Call of Duty, we could do that as well, just like we do on our own consoles.” He’s referring to the fact that many Xbox games are simultaneously available for streaming through Xbox Game Pass’ Cloud Gaming service across console, PC and mobile, but you can also still purchase digital or physical copies of them.
Spencer mentioned what “regulators would be comfortable with” is a particularly important point, as Microsoft is currently in the midst of trying to get the Activision Blizzard acquisition approved by jurisdictions around the world. PlayStation, meanwhile, has been trying to block the deal, arguing that Microsoft owning juggernauts like Call of Duty — which have huge PlayStation audiences — would be anti-competitive. Therefore, comments like the ones Spencer made on Decoder about keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation are part of a larger attempt to assuage regulators and, ultimately, close the deal.
Activision-Blizzard is currently facing ongoing legal issues regarding harassment and workplace culture. The company has been accused of enabling “frat boy culture.” Legal proceedings and investigations remain underway. Meanwhile, CEO Bobby Kotick is also under the microscope for allegedly covering up reports and allegations. New reports continue to filter in regarding sexual harassment allegations at the company.
Image credit: Activision
Source: The Verge