The Call of Duty franchise is quickly becoming the lynchpin of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Because Sony filed a protest with the cartel’s guards, Microsoft promised the Japanese company that it would also offer “CoD” games on Playstation in the long term. Now Microsoft is going a step further: “Call of Duty” games will also be offered on Nintendo Switch consoles.
This promise, shown publicly by Microsoft managers, is part of a charm offensive with which Microsoft not only wants to rack up bonus points in the gaming community, but also wants to appease cartel inspectors. The planned acquisition of US publisher Activision Blizzard is being closely scrutinized by various authorities. Cartel watchdogs in both the UK and the EU have launched extensive investigations. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to file a lawsuit against the agreement.
An important question here: would Microsoft block its competitors if it were actually allowed to take over Activision Blizzard? This happened after the takeover of Bethesda, whose titles, including “Starfield”, will only be released for the Xbox platform. But with Activision Blizzard, Microsoft is taking a more conciliatory tone in the face of increased pressure from antitrust authorities. The company almost never misses an opportunity to promise Sony the long-term release of “Call of Duty” on Playstation consoles. The Playstation group has strongly protested to the competition authorities against the acquisition.
“Call of Duty” for the first time on Switch
But the commitment to Nintendo goes one step further: before, the “Call of Duty” games were not available on Switch. Actually, there are several reasons that could speak against a change version of “Call of Duty”. For one, there’s the fact that there’s no established “Call of Duty” fanbase on the Switch.
The technology is also an issue: while the ports between Microsoft and Sony consoles aren’t an issue due to the power of comparable hardware, the Nintendo Switch is extremely weak by comparison. Porting the games requires considerable development effort, if possible at all. So some studios, including EA Sports with their popular “FIFA” series, are developing stripped-down versions for the Switch from scratch that don’t have much to do with the other consoles anymore.
However, Microsoft has now reached a ten-year deal with Nintendo, Xbox boss Phil Spencer writes on Twitter. It is not clear from the post if these are the main games or the separately developed versions. Microsoft president Brad Smith uses this to criticize Sony: “As soon as Sony wants to sit down and talk, we’d be happy to work out a ten-year deal with them.” So far, Sony has not responded to Microsoft’s offer.
The lucrative Call of Duty franchise is one of Activision Blizzard’s core brands. The latest spin-off, Modern Warfare 2, is just off to a record start with sales of over $800 million in its first three days; If Call of Duty were to disappear from the Playstation, it would be a huge blow to Sony.
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