Since the announcement of the potential takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, the questions are numerous, since the manufacturer still casts doubt on the licenses brought to become exclusive. Like any good worried litigant, Sony today recalls its rights.
While waiting to find out who from Call of Duty, Warcraft, Candy Crush, Tony Hawk, Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, StarCraft may be putting on their exclusives costume in a few years, Sony intends good not to become the turkey of the farce.
The small lines
If the acquisition of Activision Blizzard for the modest sum of 68.7 billion dollars is confirmed by the summer of 2023 by the competent authorities, the manufacturer of PlayStation consoles could eventually be forced to do without a few series or episodes considered strategic enough by Microsoft not to be subject to systematic ports.
For all intents and purposes, Sony has therefore just clarified its thinking via a press release published in the wall street journal, which lays the groundwork for future discussions:
We expect Microsoft to honor contractual agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are cross-platform.
This reaction is obviously to be compared with recent information from Bloomberg which leaves some suspense hanging over the licenses of Activision Blizzard. If contracts binding future games in development at Activision Blizzard have obviously already been the subject of agreements to be released on PS4 or PS5, what will happen to future iterations? Contracts signed in the past will eventually expire, and Sony now intends to weigh in on future negotiations.
Call of Dollars
This concern about possible exclusives in the making is obviously reminiscent of the acquisition of Bethesda via Zenimax by the same Microsoft last year. At that time, the manufacturer had clarified its intention to honor the contracts entered into before the operation, not to mention a new schedule for the “after”:
In the long term, we have no intention of simply removing all Bethesda content from the Sony or Nintendo platforms. But what we want is for the content to be, in the long term, first or better on our platforms.
Will this strategy also be applied to the Activision Blizzard catalog? Given the recurring presence of the Call of Duty series in the rankings of best sellers in the United States, it is quite difficult to imagine the new owner having such a financial windfall all of a sudden. But the idea of seeing each new episode land as soon as it is released (see a few days before?) on the Game Pass would undoubtedly make it even more attractive for some players.
For its part, Activision Blizzard already provides an element of response via the FAQ posted online to inform the group’s shareholders about the company’s plans, and ensure some form of sustainability of the achievements:
As with Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft, we have no intention of removing any content from platforms where it exists today.