Microsoft’s latest attempt to prove that buying Activision won’t create a monopoly claims making Call Of Duty exclusive wouldn’t be profitable.
Microsoft has repeatedly said they won’t, but then it originally said that about Bethesda games, before changing its story just a few months later. To try and convince regulatory bodies that they’re not going to change their story about Activision Blizzard, as soon as the deal goes through, Microsoft is now suggesting that it would ‘not be profitable’ to make Call Of Duty an exclusive.
Although they immediately undermine that claim by saying that it would make sense if they were able to attract a large enough number of gamers to Xbox, to offset the losses from not publishing on PlayStation – which is presumably their long-term goal.
The comments come from Brazil’s investigation into the acquisition, which has already seen Microsoft claim that Sony is paying off publishers in order to keep their games off Game Pass.
Another interesting suggestion is that PlayStation gamers are more loyal than those on Xbox, with Microsoft quoting a 2019 study to back up their comments. This, says Microsoft, is enough to suggest that PlayStation will continue to do well no matter what happens to Call Of Duty and other potential exclusives.
Microsoft argues that even if it was profitable to make Call Of Duty an exclusive there would be ‘no competitive impact’ as exclusivity deals are commonplace and the games industry highly competitive.
That makes less sense though, considering that Call Of Duty is always in the top three selling games of the year, and often number one, so it suddenly becoming an Xbox exclusive would clearly have a major impact.
What Microsoft doesn’t seem to say explicitly, which is odd because it’s a perfectly reasonable point, is that having Call Of Duty on Game Pass would be a massive boost all on its own, and almost makes turning the franchise into an exclusive irrelevant.
The chance to get Call Of Duty, and all other Activision Blizzard games, for ‘free’ on Game Pass is an extremely strong draw, that Sony has no counter for, especially if Microsoft starts to make exclusive content and DLC for the Xbox versions.
PlayStation owners might be loyal, but how far that loyalty can be stretched may be something we’ll find out by the time Call Of Duty and other Activision Blizzard games start appearing on Game Pass.