Regulators have raised concerns that Microsoft could block the hit Call of Duty franchise from being released on rivals’ games consoles. Microsoft said it has offered Sony a 10-year contract for Call of Duty to be released on the PlayStation on the same day it comes to the Xbox. The U.S. giant is trying to assuage regulators’ and competitors’ fears.
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Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer said late Tuesday that the company has “entered into a 10-year commitment” to bring hit game Call of Duty to Nintendo following the closure of the Activision Blizzard acquisition, as the U.S. tech giants look to sooth regulators and rivals’ antitrust fears.
Nintendo was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
It is unclear whether this commitment is legally binding, or whether Nintendo has signed it in any way. Microsoft was not immediately available for comment on these points when contacted by CNBC.
Spencer also said that Microsoft has “committed” to offer Call of Duty on game distribution platform Steam simultaneously to Xbox after the close of the deal.
The announcements come after Microsoft President Brad Smith said on Monday that the company has offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new release of Call of Duty available on Sony’s PlayStation console at the same time as the Xbox.
Microsoft’s blitz of commitments around Call of Duty, one of the most popular gaming franchises in history, comes as regulators and rivals amp up scrutiny of the company’s $69 billion takeover of Activision which was proposed in January. Activision is the developer for Call of Duty.
European Union and U.K. regulators have opened antitrust probes into the merger to look at whether the deal would hurt competition. The EU is concerned Microsoft may block access to games such as Call of Duty for rivals.
Microsoft has looked to ease fears this week through its commitments around Call of Duty. The Redmond-headquartered company argues the Activision takeover will be good for gamers and increase competition in the industry.
Microsoft has been looking to catch up with rival Sony and the success of its PlayStation 5 console. One of Microsoft’s biggest issues is the lack of first-party games which Sony has been investing in heavily. A strong list of games is helpful for console sales.
The company is also looking to bolster its cloud gaming offering — where users can effectively stream games without having to purchase them individually. Completion of the Activision deal would help Microsoft increase its catalogue of games for the service.