One of the biggest spoils of war from the proposed Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard (which is saying a lot, given the all-star lineup of big name titles) is undoubtedly the Call of Duty franchise, namely an Xbox exclusive Call of Duty — as well as the prospect of upcoming installments of Call of Duty being available on Game Pass.
On paper, a franchise as momentously popular and successful as Call of Duty could easily turn the tide when it comes to swaying gamers into making Xbox Series X/S or Game Pass an exclusive choice over a Playstation 5 or Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft has reported that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard would finalize sometime around June 2023, though the deal will first have to undergo the review of antritrust regulators regarding competition law. According to DFC Intelligence analyst/owner David Cole, the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger, and by proxy, an Xbox exclusive Call of Duty, could be seen as unfairly prohibiting market competition.
“Will this deal go through?” Cole ruminated on the DFC Twitter. “Regulators will take a close look and franchises like Call of Duty may not be exclusive to Xbox platforms because of antitrust concerns.”
“It should also be noted that on the console side Call of Duty is really the only big franchise from Activision,” Cole added. “The big issue is if [Call of Duty] becomes a Microsoft exclusive. Right now, I don’t think [it will]. For one thing, it would be hard to get it past regulators if they want to lock the competition out.”
Although Xbox head (soon to be called CEO of Microsoft Gaming after the merger) Phil Spencer said that some Activision games will still release on the Playstation, it’s unclear whether that comment referred to future installments of games or simply games that have already undergone development and are in the stages of being released.
It should also be noted in the past that a similar debate to the one now with the Xbox exclusive Call of Duty was had with the Microsoft acquisition of ZeniMax, and whether projects from Bethesda would be exclusive to Xbox or not; whereas Spencer first made it seem like Bethesda games would still be made available to all platforms, including PS5, in the same way it was before the Microsoft/ZeniMax merger, he later would go on to say instead that future “Bethesda games would be exclusive to platforms where Game Pass existed.”
Will Spencer go on to say something similar in the future about an Xbox exclusive Call of Duty? Will an Xbox exclusive Call of Duty pass the scrutiny of antitrust regulators or be deemed anti-competitive to other gamiing companies? Sound off in the comments.