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Microsoft says a Sony bargain with Activision stops Call of Duty coming to Game Pass

(Epitome credit: Activision)

A footnote in Microsoft’southward submission
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to the UK’southward Competition and Markets Potency (CMA) has let slip the reason behind Call of Duty’s absence from the Xbox Game Pass library: Sony and Activision Blizzard take a deal that restricts the games’ presence on the service.

The footnote appears in a department detailing the potential benefits to consumers (from Microsoft’s bespeak of view) of the Activision Blizzard catalogue coming to Game Pass. In information technology, Microsoft says that it plans to honour “existing contractual obligations that Activision Blizzard may have with other platforms” in the effect of its $68 billion acquisition
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going forward.

What existing contractual obligations are those? Why, ones like the “agreement between Activision Blizzard and Sony,” that places “restrictions on the power of Activision Blizzard to place COD titles on Game Pass for a number of years”. Information technology was evidently these kinds of agreements that Xbox’southward Phil Spencer had in mind
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when he spoke to Sony bosses in January and confirmed Microsoft’s “intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard”.

Unfortunately, the footnote ends there, and then in that location’s non much in the way of detail near what these restrictions are or how long they’d remain in effect in a potential post-acquisition world. Given COD’due south continued not-appearance on Game Pass, you’ve got to imagine the restrictions are fairly meaning if they’re not an outright block on COD coming to the service. Either style, the elementary fact that Microsoft is patently willing to maintain whatsoever restrictions on its own ability to put first-party games on Game Pass is rather remarkable, given that making Game Laissez passer more appealing is one of the reasons for its acquisition spree.

The irony of Sony making deals like this ane while fretting about COD’southward hereafter on PlayStation probably isn’t lost on Microsoft’s lawyers, which is no dubiousness role of why they brought it up to the CMA. While it’south absolutely reasonable to worry about a globe in which more than and more properties are concentrated in the hands of atypical, behemothic megacorps, it does look a bit odd if yous’re complaining about losing admission to games while stopping them from joining competing services.

We’ll find out if the CMA agrees when it completes its in-depth, “Stage 2” investigation
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into the Activision Blizzard acquisition, which is some way off however. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with poring over these kinds of corporate submissions for more than interesting tidbits similar this one. So far, we’ve already learned that Microsoft privately has a gloomy forecast for the futurity of cloud gaming
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, and that the company thinks Sony shouldn’t worry so much since, hey, time to come COD games might exist as underwhelming every bit Vanguard
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. Who knows what we’ll larn next?

Ane of Josh’s first memories is of playing Convulse 2 on the family computer when he was much besides immature to exist doing that, and he’s been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He’ll play pretty much annihilation, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin’southward Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its upkeep. He thinks you’re all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.