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Microsoft: Xbox-exclusive Call of Duty "would simply not be profitable"

The firm also rejected Sony's comment on Call of Duty being in a category of its own within the games market

Microsoft has said that following its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, making Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive "would simply not be profitable" for the company.

In a Google translation of a letter sent to Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), Microsoft addressed concerns that it would limit the series to its own systems if the acquisition were to go through.

Microsoft said an exclusive Call of Duty would need to bring in enough players to the Xbox ecosystem that it could compensate from the losses of not releasing the games on rival consoles, adding that exclusivity introduces new costs specific to each title. (The nature of those costs was redacted from the document.)

Sony had previously told the CADE that the merger could influence future console purchases.

"Sony's implicit concerns about Sony's content exclusivity [about] Activision Blizzard are unwarranted, and Microsoft's incentives are to continue making Activision Blizzard games available on rival consoles," Microsoft said in its response to the regulator.

(Xbox head Phil Spencer has previously said Microsoft would continue to honor current contractual obligations to publish the shooter on other platforms.)

In its letter, Microsoft also rebuffed Sony's suggestion that Call of Duty is in a unique category of its own in the market.

"In reality, not only is Call of Duty not a 'category of games per se', but it also faces strong competition from close quarters from games of multiple genres and types," Microsoft said in the document.

For comparison it noted that among the 20 best-selling console titles of last year, only two were Activision Blizzard games. (The NPD's year-end chart for 2021 had Call of Duty: Vanguard in the top spot and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War in second.)

Additionally, the letter provided a number of arguments as to why the shooter franchise will remain multiplatform.

Microsoft's stated reasons include:

  • The firm said that it's not part of its business strategy to remove content from players.

  • Consumers see subscription services as one of multiple ways that they can pay for games.

  • Sony's insinuation that Game Pass could win unattainable leadership in the subscription services space ignores the dynamic characteristic of these services and Sony's own PlayStation Plus subscription service.

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Jeffrey Rousseau

Staff Writer

Jeffrey Rousseau joined GamesIndustry.biz in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.