When Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, the first question was whether Call of Duty and the publisher’s other existing games would eventually become Xbox exclusives. Xbox head Phil Spencer was quick to say that Microsoft plans to specifically honor an existing contractual agreement between Sony and Activision on Call of Duty, and vaguely expressed a desire to keep the series on PlayStation.
While very explicit, the second point of Phil’s statement leaves room for interpretation.a new one blog post Microsoft has further articulated its commitment to keeping Activision Blizzard games multi-platform. This article discusses a new set of Microsoft Store principles in preparation for the Activision acquisition approval process, as follows:
To be clear, under the terms of its existing agreement with Activision, Microsoft will continue to offer Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard games on the PlayStation. We have committed to Sony that we will also make these games available on PlayStation in addition to existing agreements and in the future so that Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love. We’re also interested in taking similar steps to support Nintendo’s successful platform. We believe this is right for the industry, gamers and our business.
In short, Microsoft will continue to allow future Call of Duty entries and other games to remain multi-platform even when not required by law. You could still interpret this message as referring to an existing franchise with an established fan base. A new IP might be another story. But for now, those who want to keep playing Overwatch, Diablo, or Crash Bandicoot on multiple consoles don’t seem to have much to worry about.
As a reminder, the deal isn’t expected to close until around the summer of 2023, assuming the Microsoft acquisition goes through a lengthy government approval process. Until then, Activision Blizzard will continue to operate as an independent entity. If/when that happens, it’s good to know that any dead Activision franchise that Microsoft chooses to resurrect has a good chance of showing up on non-Xbox platforms.