Microsoft Elevates Activision Deal with ‘Call of Duty’ Promise

Microsoft has signed agreements giving Nintendo and Nvidia access to Activision Blizzard titles including from the popular “Call of Duty” franchise in a bid to advance its proposed $75 billion purchase of the game firm. The acquisition is opposed by some regulators in the U.S. and Europe on antitrust grounds. Microsoft’s offer to provide valuable IP to platforms that compete with its Xbox aims to quell such concerns. While Nvidia and Nintendo appear to have capitulated as a result of the new contingency, guaranteed for at least 10 years, Sony Interactive Entertainment remains a holdout.

At a press conference in Brussels this week, Microsoft president Brad Smith presented a version of the contract he said was sent to Sony late last year, offering the terms agreed to by Nintendo and Nvidia. “I’m ready to sign it anytime,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Smith as saying, adding that he was willing to make changes that may be requested by Sony.

Sony makes PlayStation hardware and also publishes games for the platform that are made available on physical media as well by subscription through its PlayStation Plus cloud service (formerly PlayStation Now). Similarly, Nintendo has its own Switch hardware, and also makes games. Nvidia offers the GeForce Now cloud-gaming service and also makes GPUs widely used by PC gamers.

Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, while currently available, is still technically in beta. All cloud platforms and console makers seek to license third-party content for their environments.

Microsoft is also said to be building an Xbox mobile store to challenge Apple and Google, with the Activision Blizzard acquisition central to that bid. In Brussels to meet with the European Commission in what CNBC called “a last-ditch effort to stop regulators from blocking the [Activision Blizzard] takeover,” Smith stressed the pro-competition aspects of the deal.

Reuters reports that GeForce NOW VP and GM Phil Eisler says “Call of Duty” will not be available on the Nvidia cloud platform if Microsoft fails to acquire Activision, but that other titles Microsoft owns, like “Minecraft,” are covered immediately. Nintendo confirmed the Microsoft agreement but made no further comment.

The European Commission, which opened its investigation in November, has an April 11 deadline to approve the deal. Separately, the UK Competition Authority has opened an antitrust investigation around the acquisition. In December, the Federal Trade Commission sued Microsoft to halt the purchase.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that Activision was recently the target of a phishing scheme that resulted in hackers allegedly accessing internal data “including the schedule of planned content to be released for the popular first-person shooter ‘Call of Duty.’”

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.