Possibly the biggest potential obstacle to the biggest videogame industry acquisition of all time—Microsoft's proposed takeover of Activision-Blizzard (opens in new tab)—is Call of Duty, and specifically the possibility that Microsoft could one day make it a console exclusive, thereby denying it to Sony. Microsoft has repeatedly said it won't (opens in new tab)—at least, not anytime soon—while Sony says the actual on-paper guarantees fall far short (opens in new tab) of public representations.
Amidst all the hubbub, there's one man who wouldn't mind terribly if Microsoft did someday decide to make Call of Duty a platform exclusive: Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, who said during a recent Goldman Sachs event (transcribed by Seeking Alpha (opens in new tab), via GameSpot (opens in new tab)) that even just the possibility of Call of Duty becoming an exclusive is good news for EA's Battlefield series.
The latest addition to the Battlefield lineup, Battlefield 2042, fell well short of EA's hopes (opens in new tab), and while it has continued to work on the game and make improvements (opens in new tab) since then, Wilson acknowledged that the series has struggled in recent years.
"I don't think we delivered in the last two iterations of that in the way that we should have," Wilson said. "There's a lot of work that we've got to do there. But at its very core, this is an extraordinary IP. And what we've seen in the world of entertainment is, great IP is resilient."
"We've seen movies not live up to the expectations of franchises. Star Wars might be one such franchise. And then you can see what happens when you get the right creative team involved, how they can completely reinvent and grow a franchise. And I think we have an extraordinary creative team involved in Battlefield now who have unbelievable ambitions to own the first person shooter space."
Resilience is always a little easier to pull off when your closest competitors are tripping over their own feet, and Wilson sees a potential opening for Battlefield amidst the bickering about the future of Call of Duty: "In a world where there may be questions over the future of Call of Duty and what platforms that might be on or might not be on, being platform agnostic and completely cross-platform with Battlefield, I think is a tremendous opportunity," he said.
Of course, opportunity doesn't mean much if you're not in a position to capitalize on it, but EA has made some big moves (opens in new tab) recently to expand its commitment to the Battlefield series: Original developer DICE is continuing to work on the game's multiplayer component, while new studio Ridgeline Games will develop a brand-new campaign "set in the Battlefield universe" (and separate from Battlefield 2042) under the leadership of Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto. Ripple Effect Studios, formerly known as DICE LA, is also joining the effort with "an entirely new Battlefield experience that will complement and build upon the series’ foundations."