Microsoft and Sony agree to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation

Following a bitter, months-long feud over the company’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft and Sony have signed a deal to keep the multi-billion dollar Call of Duty franchise on PlayStation consoles. “We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and PlayStation have signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer tweeted Sunday morning. “We look forward to a future where players globally have more choice to play their favorite games.” 

The announcement comes after Microsoft on Friday defeated a last-ditch effort by the US Federal Trade Commission to scuttle the company’s $68.7 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to grant the regulator an emergency stay of a ruling that allows the deal to proceed in the US. The United Kingdom’s Markets and Competition Authority (CMA) is the last remaining regulator of note opposed to the purchase, but the watchdog and Microsoft recently agreed to put their legal battle over the deal on hold and negotiate a compromise.      

“From Day One of this acquisition, we’ve been committed to addressing the concerns of regulators, platform and game developers, and consumers,” Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith tweeted in response to Spencer’s post. “Even after we cross the finish line for this deal’s approval, we will remain focused on ensuring that Call of Duty remains available on more platforms and for more consumers than ever before.”

Spencer did not disclose the terms of Microsoft’s deal with Sony, though Stephen Totilo of Axios later confirmed that it is 10 years in duration. Microsoft first offered Sony a 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on current and future PlayStation consoles at the end of last year, though the Japanese electronics giant turned down the olive branch at the time. In an effort to secure approval from regulators, including the FTC and CMA, Microsoft went on to sign an agreement with Nintendo to bring the series to the company’s future consoles. It also came to terms with cloud gaming providers like NVIDIA.     

Before today, Jim Ryan, the president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, made clear he was strongly opposed to Microsoft’s Activision bid. “I don’t want a new Call of Duty deal. I just want to block your merger,” Ryan told Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. “I told him [Kotick] that I thought the transaction was anti-competitive, I hoped that the regulators would do their job and block it,” Ryan later said during his testimony at the FTC v. Microsoft hearing. But with the purchase all but set to move forward, Sony likely had no choice but to come to terms with its rival. 

Update 2:57PM ET: Added more information about the length of the agreement. 

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