Xbox Game Pass: It appears that the plot surrounding Xbox and its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is only going to thicken. The CMA has issued a statement in response to its intent to continue its investigation, which includes a note explaining why fears rooted in Call of Duty being included in Game Pass are unfounded.
There are a number of reasons why the CMA believes a second phase of its investigation into the merger is necessary (via VGC). Among those reasons was the possibility that Call of Duty titles will be available on Game Pass, potentially undercutting PlayStation sales at full price.
Phil Spencer’s tweet from January is cited and expanded upon in Xbox’s response. As Spencer revealed, he spoke with Sony and confirmed that Xbox intends to honor all agreements with the studio. The response this week confirms that one of those agreements prevents Call of Duty from being added to Game Pass for a period of time.
Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony. I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) January 20, 2022
“The agreement between Activision Blizzard and Sony includes restrictions on the ability of Activision Blizzard to place Call of Duty titles on Game Pass for a number of years,” is the exact wording of the note in Xbox’s response. There is no ambiguity there, but this isn’t the first time Xbox has attempted to be as clear as possible regarding these issues.
Despite the fact that Xbox will acquire other major titles as part of the Activision Blizzard merger, Call of Duty continues to be a sticking point. There has been an admission by Sony to Brazilian authorities that it is concerned that the series will become exclusive to the Xbox. Unlike the CMA, the CMA has not been swayed easily, and it may prevent the acquisition if it deems it detrimental to the industry. As another sexual harassment lawsuit was filed last week, investigations into Activision Blizzard’s alleged toxic work culture continue.