Microsoft announced today that it has signed a binding deal to bring the Call of Duty Franchise to Nintendo platforms for the next 10 years.
The deal was announced on social media by vice chair and president Brad Smith just a few minutes ago. It reads as follows.
"Microsoft and Nintendo have now negotiated and signed a binding 10-year legal agreement to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo players - the same day as Xbox, with full feature and content parity - so they can experience Call of Duty just as Xbox and PlayStation garners enjoy Call of Duty. We are committed to providing long term equal access to Call of Duty to other gaming platforms, bringing more choice to more players and more competition to the gaming market."
This means that players will be able to play Call of Duty games on Nintendo Switch, albeit it isn't mentioned whether the deal includes this year's entry in the franchise, which has already been confirmed.
Of course, the deal likely extends beyond the Switch. While Nintendo has not announced the hybrid console's successors, I imagine that it'll come at some point before the 10-year deal expires. It's also very likely that this deal requires the acquisition of Activision by Microsoft to go through to become effective, since the deal is between Microsoft and Nintendo, and not between Activision and Nintendo, albeit this is just my personal speculation.
This definitely puts pressure on Sony's objections to the acquisition and on the antitrust regulators seeking to block it, as most of the arguments against the deal focus on the popularity of the Call of Duty franchise and on the alleged damage to competition by it becoming exclusive to Microsoft's platforms. The agreement with Nintendo deals a severe blow to that argument and we'll have to wait and see which kinds of effects it'll have on the proceedings.
Recently, we heard that Microsoft and Activision are still aiming to close the deal before July 2023.