It looks like Sony is flying the white flag in its attempts to try to keep Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard. This morning, it was announced that Microsoft and Sony have signed an agreement that will keep the huge Call of Duty franchise on Sony's PlayStation consoles after Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard is completed.
The news was posted by Xbox head Phil Spencer on his Twitter account. He did not offer any specifics on this deal, including how long it will last or if any money was exchanged. He did state: "We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games."
We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and @PlayStation have signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 16, 2023
Microsoft President Brad Smith issued his own comment on Twitter. He stated:
From Day One of this acquisition, we’ve been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers. Even after we cross the finish line for this deal’s approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before.
Sony was the biggest company that voiced its opposition to Microsoft purchasing Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. It tried for months to convince government regulators like the US Federal Trade Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority that the deal would be bad for the game industry in general and for Sony in particular.
At one point, Sony claimed in documents filed to the CMA, "Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates." Sony PlayStation head Jim Ryan, in testimony he gave to the FTC in April, also claimed that Sony would not offer info on future PlayStation consoles if the deal to buy Activision Blizzard went through.
Meanwhile, we are still awaiting word on if Microsoft will actually close the deal with Activision Blizzard by its current deadline of July 18. The CMA blocked the deal in late April, but since then Microsoft has reportedly offered a new deal to the regulator. The CMA has extended its investigation deadline until August 29.
There's some speculation Microsoft could close the deal by July 18 but might agree to continue to talk to the CMA until its new deadline. It's also possible Microsoft and Activision Blizzard can extend their merger deadline as well.
Update: The Verge has confirmed that the agreement between Microsoft and Sony is for 10 years, and only covers the Call of Duty franchise. Also, Microsoft tried to make an agreement with Sony to keep all current Activision games on PlayStation until the end of 2027, but Sony did not agree to that deal.