Video games: Microsoft agrees to offer Call of Duty on Nintendo consoles

Microsoft makes a pleasing announcement for video game enthusiasts but which is far from disinterested. The famous war video game franchise call of duty will be available on Nintendo consoles if the takeover of the game’s publisher, Activision, by Microsoft succeeds.

Microsoft, which markets the Xbox console, announced in January the acquisition of the American publisher Activision Blizzard for a record amount of 69 billion dollars (about 65 billion euros at the current rate). But this project is in the crosshairs of the competition authorities in the United States and Europe.

Regulators fear the acquisition could allow Microsoft to foreclose access to Activision Blizzard’s games – which also include the hugely lucrative ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘Candy Crush’ – on competitors’ platforms. Today’s announcement may be an attempt to curry favor with regulators.

“Microsoft wants to bring more games to more people, however they choose to play,” said Phil Spencer, the head of the American giant’s Gaming division, in a message on Twitter. “Microsoft has committed to providing Call of Duty to Nintendo for ten years after the merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King,” he added. It clarifies that new Call of Duty games will also continue to be offered on the Steam desktop gaming platform.

Opening of an in-depth investigation

This announcement “is clearly a publicity stunt because of its timing”, reacted to AFP Serkan Toto, of the analysis firm Kantan Games in Tokyo. The American Competition Authority (FTC) must indeed examine Thursday the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, according to several media. The European Commission opened an investigation into the transaction in early November, and the United Kingdom’s competition watchdog announced in September the opening of an in-depth investigation.

Nintendo’s Switch console, which has already sold more than 110 million copies since its release in March 2017, “is not new,” adds Serkan Toto. “If Activision really wanted to bring Call of Duty to a Nintendo platform, they could have done it three or four years ago.” The Call of Duty franchise has already been available in the past, at the turn of the 2000s and 2010s on various Nintendo media. But the gap between the power required to run the games and the capabilities of the Japanese firm’s tools led the publisher to make significant concessions on graphics and gameplay.

Phil Spencer told Bloomberg on Wednesday that an agreement similar to the one with Nintendo had been offered to Sony, the maker of the PlayStation, which has been strongly opposed to the Microsoft-Activision transaction from the start. The Japanese group reportedly declined the offer.