A new report suggests that Microsoft, likely in an effort to placate regulators, offered Sony the chance to put Call of Duty on its PlayStation Plus subscription service. Clearly, the addition of this sweetener did nothing to make Sony feel better about the deal, but it shows Microsoft really wants this acqusition to go through. Who'd have thunk?
This news comes via Bloomberg, which cites "a person familiar with the negotiations" who wishes to remain anonymous due to the confidential nature of ongoing talks. It's part of the 10-year deal offered to Sony by Microsoft (and summarily rejected by the former), which would have ensured that Call of Duty games remain on Sony consoles for at least 10 years following the yet-to-be-approved purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft..
Last week, Microsoft announced that it has signed a 10-year deal with Nintendo to put Call of Duty on the latter's hardware. Presumably, the terms of this deal were somewhat similar to the ones offered to Sony, although Nintendo's subscription service operates a little differently to PlayStation Plus (and Xbox Game Pass, for that matter). It's worth saying, though, that this is a different situation; Call of Duty hasn't made its way to Switch yet, so any appearance of the series is new for Nintendo, whereas the series is likely to represent a big chunk of Sony's income on PlayStation.
News of Microsoft's proposed Sony deal comes in the wake of the FTC filing a lawsuit to stop the impending Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The FTC's objection appears to stem from a potential monopoly wherein Microsoft would be able to dictate how Activision Blizzard games are released, thus gaining an unfair competitive advantage.
This is also a concern mirrored by Sony, which has raised concerns about Call of Duty's status as an unrivaled FPS in the gaming space. Sony has said that Call of Duty's status as an "essential" game means no other title would be able to rival its size and heft, and that Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition would harm Sony as a result, especially if Microsoft made Call of Duty exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem.
It's precisely those fears that Microsoft was seeking to allay with the proposed Sony deal, which now also appears to include the chance to put the series on PlayStation Plus. If the deal goes through, future Call of Duty games are likely to be released on Xbox Game Pass on day one, so the PS Plus part of the deal was likely intended to assuage Sony's fears about that. It was also meant to reassure regulators that Xbox Game Pass would still have competition as a gaming subscription service, which has been a point of contention regarding the Microsoft-ABK deal as well. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.