why Microsoft’s takeover of the license scares Sony

Following the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft in early 2022, Sony fears losing a large part of the fans of call of duty.

The acquisition of the publisher Activision-Blizzard by the giant Microsoft marked the economic and commercial world news well beyond the sphere of video games. And for good reason, Xbox has acquired the firm behind the licenses Diablo, StarCraft, Warcraft and call of duty for the modest sum of 68.7 billion dollars. A historic agreement whose repercussions are not yet fully perceived at present, but which could affect the commercial balance of the video game world in the long term.

Sony is perfectly aware of this, and in an interview given to a Brazilian regulatory body, whose mission is to validate the commercial agreement between Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard, the representatives of the Japanese firm did not hide their concern about this transaction. The main source of concern for PlayStation is called call of duty.

La Call of Duty business war machine

In the interview between Brazil’s trade regulator and Sony, which was posted on ResetEra, Sony executives say they fear that if Microsoft develops exclusives call of duty for Xbox machines, it would cause players to abandon the PlayStation platform. Sony even qualifies COD of “essential game: a blockbuster, AAA-like game that has no rival“.

Sony executives recalled that call of duty is one of the few licenses to be able to compete with the behemoths of cinema in terms of cultural aura:

“According to a 2019 study, the importance of Call of Duty to entertainment, in general, is indescribable. The brand was the only video game IP to enter the top 10 of all entertainment brands among fans , joining powerhouses such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.”

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call of duty is one of the best-selling game series in video game history, with more than 400 million units sold worldwide, all materials combined. Followed by a community of loyal players, COD is an unstoppable war machine, which can count on the colossal human resources of Activision-Blizzard to be able to continue to grow. Sony also returned to the design conditions for games in the franchise, explaining that few publishers can compete against Activision-Blizzard.

“Each annual Call of Duty release takes approximately 3-5 years to develop. As Activision releases one Call of Duty game per year, this equates to an annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. Approximately 1,200 people work on each release and Another 1,500 are involved in publishing and distribution, so Call of Duty alone has more developers than most game companies employ in their entire development portfolio, including studios. AAA.”

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Between the financial power of Microsoft, the blockbuster production machine that is Activision-Blizzard and the aura of the saga call of dutySony fears that if one day the COD only came to be released exclusively on Xbox, this comes upset the balance of power between hardware manufacturers. And this, even though Microsoft has insisted that COD wouldn’t become an Xbox exclusive overnight.

Sony said that if that ever happens, even with maximum effort, the AAA FPS race will be lost:

“Call of Duty is so popular that it influences users’ choice of console, and its community of loyal users is strong enough that even if a competitor had the budget to develop a similar product, they couldn’t compete with him.

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At present, Sony has nothing to fear sincea contract for the commercial exploitation of the mark call of duty still short for three years between PlayStation and Activision-Blizzard. But by 2025, Xbox could end this agreement, and recover the excluded COD.

As for the arms race, Sony is not to be outdone, since after announcing the takeover of Bungie (Halo, destiny) for $3.6 billion, other major studios could be acquired by PlayStation. Some rumors even mention names like Capcom, Sega, Bandai Namco or Konami as potential candidates.


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