Microsoft has confirmed that it has offered Sony the option to put future Call of Duty games on its PlayStation Plus subscription service on day one, as part of its effort to allay regulators’ concerns about Blizzard’s proposed acquisition of Activision .
However, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has claimed that the offer could be subject to unsustainable licensing fees, forcing it to raise prices.
The offer is described in Microsoft’s newly published response to UK regulator’s preliminary findings, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), released last month.
In its response, Microsoft reiterates its willingness to sign a 10-year contract guaranteeing that the shooter series will continue to be released on PlayStation consoles after the acquisition.
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Microsoft claims its 10-year offer will give Sony parity in “release date, content, features, upgrades, quality and playability with the Xbox platform” on PS4, PS5 and any successors.
Notably, the Xbox owner said parity will also apply to streaming and subscription services, confirming a Bloomberg report from last year.
“Each CoD game in a Microsoft multi-game subscription is eligible for inclusion in Sony’s multi-game subscription service, at the same time and for the same duration,” Microsoft said in its response.
It has confirmed that, if the Activision Blizzard deal is approved by regulators, it plans to post future releases on Game Pass on the day of their release. This would seemingly give Sony the green light to do the same on PlayStation Plus for the next decade, should it accept Microsoft’s offer.
However, in its own response to the CMA’s findings, also published on Wednesday, SIE argues that Microsoft’s subscription offerings aren’t as compelling as they seem.
In a heavily redacted document, the PlayStation company claims that Microsoft would have significant leverage to manipulate the price of Call of Duty on PlayStation based on the licensing fees it decides to charge. On submission, SIE claims “this would destroy SIEs commercially [multi-game subscription] fashion model.”
Microsoft would be able to “raise the price of Call of Duty,” claims SIE, forcing it to “raise the price of Call of Duty.” [our] MGS service, or not offering Call of Duty on MGS at all.”
It wrote: “As a result of the proposal, Call of Duty would become a Game Pass exclusive by default and therefore dominate MGS services going forward.”
Microsoft has said it is willing to commit to appointing an external reviewer to ensure it does not deviate from its obligations over the 10-year period.
The CMA’s final report on the Activision Blizzard deal is due April 26.
While Sony has so far refused to accept Microsoft’s 10-year offer, Microsoft president Brad Smith recently said he remains hopeful of a deal with PlayStation.
Last month, Microsoft announced it had signed a binding 10-year legal agreement to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms if the Activision Blizzard deal is approved.
It also confirmed a 10-year partnership with Nvidia to bring its Xbox PC games to cloud gaming service GeForce Now, including Call of Duty.