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In October 2022, Phil Spencer, the head of gaming at Microsoft, made a daring statement: He said he would dearly love to see the venerable Call of Duty franchise come on the Nintendo Switch in the future as part of a Microsoft-led revamp of the game. This was dependent on the full acquisition of Activision Blizzard. It may happen now that Spencer is saying a ten-year licensing agreement with Nintendo has been set up should the Activision Blizzard transaction go through.
Following the merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King, Microsoft has made a 10-year commitment to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo.
Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people – however they choose to play,” Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, tweeted Tuesday in announcing the “COD” agreements for Nintendo and Steam.
Notably, the Call of Duty video game series was never released on the Nintendo Switch, most likely due to performance issues. The graphics in current Call of Duty games are quite demanding, so a fair and playable port would require a significant hardware downgrade (or future hardware advancement).
Call of duty still on Sony Playstation
The most recent pledges from Microsoft came after the software giant promised to keep making "Call of Duty" on Sony's PlayStation platform for at least 10 years if the Activision Blizzard deal is approved.
Microsoft is willing to have the Sony 10-year agreement "legally enforceable by regulators in the U.S., U.K. and European Union," Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal on December 5, noting that the business "made a similar commitment to the European Commission" to ensure competitors had access to key technologies when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016. The "Call of Duty" offer from Microsoft has not been addressed by Sony, although the company has expressed objection to the Activision acquisition.
Microsoft also disclosed that it had extended a decades-long Call of Duty licensing offer to Sony before announcing the new Nintendo agreement. This was done to soothe fears about the property being isolated from the Xbox ecosystem. Likely, this agreement with Nintendo was later extended to preserve existing ties and lessen the chance that the Activision Blizzard acquisition would be thwarted.
Microsoft and Blizzard's Mega deal
In January, Microsoft announced its $69 billion bid for Activision Blizzard, which would be the biggest-ever acquisition in the video game business. The companies have said they expect the deal to close in June 2023. In addition to being the largest tech deal to date, if it goes through, it will be Microsoft's largest purchase and by far the largest deal in the video game industry.
"Call of Duty," "Candy Crush," "Warcraft," "Diablo," "Overwatch," and "Hearthstone," among other popular games, are produced by Activision Blizzard. According to Microsoft, the acquisition will hasten the growth of its gaming business across mobile, PC, console, and cloud platforms and will provide "building blocks" for the metaverse.
In addition to announcing a ten-year deal to provide Call of Duty to Nintendo consoles, Spencer also said on Twitter that Microsoft would continue to make the game available to PC players through Steam, with simultaneous releases for all platforms.
In a private meeting on Thursday, the FTC is expected to discuss the antitrust implications of Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The agency is reportedly preparing to file a lawsuit to stop the transaction. Regulators worry that Microsoft might favor its own Xbox consoles over competitors like Sony and Nintendo in Activision Blizzard games.
The Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger is currently the subject of an active investigation by the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority antitrust regulator to see whether it will lessen market competition.
Activision Blizzard's most popular game is "Call of Duty," which sold $1 billion worldwide in the first 10 days after its October 28 release, breaking the previous franchise record of 15 days set in 2012 by "Call of Duty: Black Ops II."
This could be the last push needed to approve the Activision Blizzard merger. We can now imagine a future in which Call of Duty is made available as a portable game that can be played on any console, wherever we are.