Sony claims that should the Activision Blizzard deal go through, Microsoft will develop degraded, buggy versions of Call of Duty for the PlayStation platform. The company says that it is concerned about the future of the Call of Duty series should Microsoft own it and the new owners will choose to apply a range of tactics to stifle the competition if the deal is approved.
The report comes from the ongoing CMA investigation which is set to conclude in late April. The investigation is trying to figure out whether or not Microsoft’s acquisition will impact the industry. Even though the company has already made 10-year promises with NVIDIA, Sony and Nintendo to release Call of Duty on multiple platforms, the CMA doesn’t seem convinced yet.
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Sony has now stated that there should be remedies in place to safeguard the future of the Call of Duty series. The company claims that these so-called “10-year deals” aren’t enough to address the regulator’s concerns over the sale. Sony says that there were “myriad ways Microsoft could withhold or degrade access which would be extremely difficult to monitor and police.”
“If Microsoft failed to comply with its commitment, it would likely only risk paying a fine (possibly many years later). But rivals’ access to Call of Duty would be immediately foreclosed, irreparably damaging their ability to compete and ultimately harming consumers”
Sony says that one of the ways Microsoft could choose to circumvent its obligations would be to release a buggy version of Call of Duty on PlayStation.
“Swiftly detecting any diversions from, and ensuring compliance with, a commitment as to technical or graphical quality would be challenging. For example, 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.
The argument continues to reference how quickly gamers run out and purchase Call of Duty. Sony says that should a so-called “worse” version of the game exist on PlayStation, gamers could decide to switch to Xbox.
“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 is also concerned that Microsoft will not treat Sony fairly and that there is no way to monitor the game’s development to ensure parity across devices. The company says that Microsoft will no doubt prioritise the Xbox platform when it comes to the development of Call of Duty which will affect other consoles.
“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”
So far, Microsoft hasn’t replied to this statement. The company only says that its prepared to appoint a third-party assessor to make sure it doesn’t drift away from its 10-year promise. Seems like this assessor will also have to test Call of Duty to make sure it runs the same on Xbox and PlayStation.