All eyes have turned to the US’s FTC as Microsoft attempts to get its Activision Blizzard deal approved in its home country.
Now, revealed filings have shone a spotlight on Sony’s main argument which is essentially: Microsoft cannot be trusted to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation because they are not making new Bethesda games like Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI available on PlayStation.
We are back to the Zenimax Bethesda deal, which keeps coming up in Sony’s arguments. Microsoft has repeatedly offered Sony ten year deals for Call of Duty which PS head Jim Ryan has deemed “insufficient.”
This is an old argument, but it shows that Sony is still trying to use it alongside the FTC. With the UK’s CMA, the Call of Duty console stuff was not really the main factor in the rejection of the deal, as cloud-based concerns were cited instead.
Microsoft’s argument has always been that Starfield is a new franchise and both Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI are single player games, therefore unlike Call of Duty, they do not have established online communities across all platforms, including PlayStation’s huge playerbase for the game. They say it would not make financial success to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation.
But it’s…a weird argument. If the acquisition of Bethesda never happened, Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI would have both released on PlayStation and racked up millions, if not tens of millions of sales there. Microsoft is not saying it would make financial sense to keep those games on PlayStation, despite that fact, thinking that instead they will gain more benefit with new and continued Game Pass subs, players who will be getting those games as part of that service on day one. No tens of millions of sales, most likely, because of that.
I do believe that Microsoft will not remove Call of Duty from PlayStation like they say. But their argument is essentially “trust us” and Sony’s response to that is “you took away Starfield and Elder Scrolls” and Microsoft’s response to that is “well that’s different.” Not amazing arguments on either side, really, but I’d say this generally looks stranger on the Microsoft end. We’ll see if the FTC can make a convincing case out of it when no one else around the globe really did.