In a move that sent shock waves throughout the gaming world, Microsoft announced that it’s buying the troubled Activision Blizzard, the publisher behind some of the world’s biggest franchises, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. The deal is potentially worth $69 billion.
The tech giant already owns Mojang Studios, the team behind Minecraft, and ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, well known for The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout.
But, what does this acquisition mean for Activision’s games on PlayStation? Well, nothing has been set in stone just yet, but here’s what we know so far.
Sony Issues Statement as Share Price Tanks
As reported by Forbes, Sony immediately released a statement when news broke out about the deal, stating that it expects Microsoft to abide by its contractual agreements and ensure that all Activision games are multiplatform releases.
The news sent Sony’s stock spiraling on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on January 19, 2022; from what we observed on MarketWatch, it fell by over 13%, translating to roughly a $20 billion drop.
Investors are apprehensive that Microsoft’s acquisition will eventually result in key games being removed from Sony’s platform, significantly weakening the company’s position in the console wars.
The Xbox Game Pass has already been a massive hit, and Sony has been slow to release anything similar. However, its impact has been relatively small so far, given the commanding lead it built up over the last generation.
Sony itself has been investing heavily in first-party exclusives and other titles, and the Japanese behemoth may probably respond with a studio acquisition of its own.
However, there’s little doubt that if this acquisition goes through as Microsoft planned, Xbox will become a more appealing platform to many gamers.
Microsoft Will Honor Its Existing Contractual Agreements
Microsoft’s Head of Gaming Phil Spencer had a call with the leaders at Sony and confirmed that the company would honor all of its existing contractual agreements.
He stated that Microsoft values its relationship with Sony, and it will continue to support existing releases as contractually agreed.
The same happened when Microsoft acquired Bethesda. Both Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo launched as Playstation exclusives since the deal was agreed prior to Microsoft’s acquisition. However, Phil Spencer announced that the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls VI would be an Xbox exclusive.
Given Bethesda’s reputation for releasing games riddled with glitches, that may not worry PlayStation heads as much. However, the company has a long-standing contract with Call of Duty, with exclusive modes and skins releasing on PlayStation first. This may change in the future.
There was a time when Andrew House, the PlayStation CEO in 2015, stated that PlayStation was the “exclusive home of Call of Duty.” At the moment, it looks like the blockbuster franchise will be moving to a new home in the future.
What Happens When Sony’s Contracts Run Out?
Phil Spencer stated that Microsoft has no intentions to “remove any content from platforms where it exists today.” This likely means that live-service games such as Call of Duty may still release on future PlayStation consoles, though the exclusive content may be available on Xbox and PC instead.
At the moment, Microsoft is keen on expanding its Game Pass service, and this purchase will only boost conversions and drive sales.
Microsoft could pull big-name titles and make them exclusive to its platform. Or, it could release timed exclusives, much like PlayStation has done in the past.
Expect Activision Games to Remain Multiplatform for Now
Based on everything we know so far, we can safely expect Activision Blizzard’s games to remain multiplatform for the foreseeable future. We believe Microsoft wouldn’t want to hurt its profitability by immediately taking away blockbuster titles from a console as big as the PlayStation.
But, as Xbox continues to grow and the company keeps increasing its subscriber count for the Game Pass, things may change.
Are you an avid Xbox or PC gamer? Then check out the reasons why you should get an Xbox Game Pass subscription right now.
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