Sony is scared Xbox might sabotage Call of Duty on PlayStation

By Sean Carey,

Sony is worried that Xbox could potentially release a buggy version of Call of Duty for PlayStation consoles should Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard be approved.

In a new document laying out its concerns to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition (thanks, The Verge), Sony says Microsoft could employ a number of methods to make Call of Duty less appealing to PlayStation gamers, including raising the price of Call of Duty games on PlayStation, making them available only in Game Pass, and releasing inferior or buggy versions on PlayStation consoles.

Sony is worried that Xbox could release an inferior version of Call of Duty on PlayStation

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II gameplay

"Microsoft might release a PlayStation version of Call of Duty where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after later updates. Even if such degradations could be swiftly detected, any remedy would likely come too late, by which time the gaming community would have lost confidence in PlayStation as a go-to venue to play Call of Duty," Sony said in the document. "Indeed, as Modern Warfare II attests, Call of Duty is most often purchased in just the first few weeks of release. If it became known that the game’s performance on PlayStation was worse than on Xbox, Call of Duty gamers could decide to switch to Xbox, for fear of playing their favourite game at a second-class or less competitive venue."

Sony goes on to suggest that Microsoft might also prioritise Xbox versions of the game over Playstation. "Post-Transaction, Microsoft will need to make choices about the support it will provide to develop any PlayStation version of Call of Duty. Even if Microsoft operated in good faith, it would be incentivised to support and prioritise development of the Xbox version of the game, such as by using its best engineers and more of its resources. There would be no practical way for the CMA (or SIE) to monitor how Microsoft chooses to allocate its resources and the quality/quantity of engineers it devotes to the PlayStation version of Call of Duty, to ensure that SIE would be treated fairly and equally."

In a statement given to Eurogamer, Microsoft has responded to Sony's claims.

"Since the CMA issued its Provisional Findings, we have offered solutions which address its concerns and increase the deal's benefits to UK players and game developers," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "These include a guarantee of parity between Xbox and PlayStation on access to Call of Duty and legally binding commitments to ensure that Call of Duty is available to at least 150 million more players on other consoles and cloud streaming platforms once the deal closes.

"The decision now lies with the CMA on whether it will block this deal and protect Sony, the dominant market leader, or consider solutions that make more games available to more players."

Last month, Xbox signed a contract to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms for the next ten years. It also announced a deal to bring Xbox PC games to Nvidia's GeForce Now.
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Sean graduated from Southampton Solent University with a first-class honours degree in Journalism, which he uses to keep TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies topped up with gaming and industry news. When not scouring the web for the latest big story, you’ll find him tearing up the streets in Forza Horizon 5 or picking up wins in Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0.
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