From what is emerging in the latest reports, it would seem that Activision is not willing to bring its titles to Microsoft’s Game Pass if the acquisition of Blizzard Activision fails. And apparently, the same thing also applies to the PlayStation Plus.
Microsoft has filed a 111-page filing with UK regulators today, revealing some pretty interesting details about Activision’s thoughts on subscription services. According to Microsoft, which cites inside sources and executive sworn testimony, Activision has no plans to port any of its major titles to a subscription service if the acquisition is not approved.
This detail is of particular interest, because of a pre-existing agreement that Activision had made with Sony, the big competitor of Microsoft. Indeed Activision had signed a large multi-year marketing and licensing deal with Sony, where pledged to offer exclusive content for PlayStation, and where there was a pledge not to publish any title in the Call of Duty series on Game Pass.
Still according to Microsoft’s statements to the CMA, Activision still had no intention of publishing Call of Duty (or any of its other great games) on the Game Pass service.
This is what we read from an excerpt of the report delivered by Microsoft to the authorities:
“Activision has never released new content on subscription services and has no plans to do so in the future. Without the merger, Activision content will not be available on subscription services. The merger cannot therefore under any circumstances worsen competitive conditions. Activision does not make its games (including Call of Duty) available in any meaningful way to any subscription servicenor is there any evidence that this is likely to change in the foreseeable future. Activision’s ordinary course internal business records, as well as the sworn testimony of its executives, they clarified that there are no plans to do so in the future in the absence of a merger.“
“Activision fears that its participation in subscription services could impact its (REDACTED) business and would lead to brand dilution and cannibalization of buy-to-play sales (particularly for new releases). This reflects Activision’s view that even if the subscription business model grows, the (REDACTED). This is a key obstacle for publishers more generally agreeing to place their content on subscription services, a position that will not change in the future.”
The reason is clear enough. The day and date of Call of Duty’s release would greatly affect sales of the full game. Even older catalog games still sell incredibly well and, for example, the franchise sold 25 million copies of the various games during 2021, which was a “bad year” due to Vanguard’s performance.
Call of Duty has such great economic power for Activision because it leverages both full game sales and in-game purchases via microtransactions. Discontinuing sales of the full game due to the title becoming available on subscription services would significantly affect the revenue Actvision would earn from its flagship franchise.
For example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 grossed over $1 billion in just 10 daysand solely on the sale of the base game on all available platforms.
This is the same reason why too Take-Two Interactive does not allow the publication of its games on Game Pass on day one, and because it supports this service only a very selective and limited base.
According to Microsoft, again in the aforementioned report presented to the UK authorities, it is stated that according to the Redmond giant, the Call of Duty franchise would have lost value due to the intense competition.
Meanwhile, the reassurances of Phil Spencer continue, who does not seem to be willing to exclude PlayStation users from accessing the brand. Sony offered a new ten-year contract for the series.
And what do you think? Let us know, as always, in the comments.