Microsoft has refused to buy Activision but not Call Of Duty, as it vows to add the series to Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud service.
The ongoing saga that is the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard buy out has reached a critical stage, with the Xbox makers flying out to Brussels to convince the European Commission to approve the acquisition.
Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith also held a press conference with the media, to reiterate a lot of the same talking points about why the deal is a good thing.
He did have some new details to share, though. The first was that the contract that will bring the Call Of Duty franchise to Nintendo Switch is now legally binding. The second was that Microsoft has made a similar deal with Nvidia.
It’s already been put into effect and not only means all of Activision’s games will release for Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud streaming service (so long as the Activision deal goes through), but so too will all Microsoft published Xbox games.
Interestingly enough, it was reported last month that Nvidia had expressed reservations with the Microsoft/Activision deal. However, it didn’t outright oppose it, so it’s not too surprising that Microsoft was able to win it over with the right incentive.
The pledge to bring Activision games to Nvidia GeForce Now nullifies Nvidia’s main concern: Microsoft locking Activision games to its own cloud service and thus dominating the market.
One of Microsoft’s big selling points for the deal is that it will allow Activision Blizzard’s games to become more widely available, with Microsoft routinely promising that it wants to bring titles like Call Of Duty to other platforms.
These new arrangements with Nintendo and Nvidia essentially act as proof of Microsoft’s commitment, which the company hopes will ease the concerns of regulators.
It’s also all carefully designed to make Sony look as stubborn and unreasonable as possible, with Smith reiterating that the PlayStation company still hasn’t accepted Microsoft’s offer that would keep Call Of Duty on PlayStation consoles.
Smith even revealed that he carries the agreement Microsoft sent to Sony in his pocket, so it can be signed at any time (which seems more compulsive than anything) and that Microsoft is always willing to renegotiate.
‘We haven’t yet reached an agreement with Sony; I hope we will. I walk around with an envelope that contains the definitive agreement that we sent to Sony two days before Christmas. I’m ready to sign it at any time. And if Sony doesn’t like the words, we’re ready to sit down and pull out a pen, or a version of Microsoft Word, and its cut and paste features,’ he said.
It’s always worth remembering, though, that Microsoft’s proposed Call Of Duty deal, for both Sony and Nintendo, only lasts for 10 years. So, there’s no guarantee that Microsoft won’t turn the franchise into an Xbox exclusive once it expires.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer did previously say that the company is far more interested in Activision Blizzard’s mobile division than Call Of Duty, but recent comments by Smith show that that’s not entirely the case.
As a reminder, the UK’s own Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ruled that a Microsoft owned Activision Blizzard would be harmful to the wider industry and gamers.
It suggested a ‘partial divestiture’ would allow Microsoft to buy the company, which would involve selling off Call Of Duty to someone else. Despite the pretence that they are most interested in the mobile business, Microsoft has outright rejected such an idea, according to GamesIndustry.biz.
Elsewhere, Smith claimed that, globally, Microsoft only has a 30% share in the console market while Sony owns the remaining 70%, with the split in Europe being 80/20 in Sony’s favour.
According to these figures though Nintendo doesn’t exist, despite the Switch doing so well that it became the third bestselling console in history just a few weeks ago.
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