Microsoft's Xbox boss Phil Spencer has made his most far-reaching promise about keeping Call of Duty on Sony platforms yet, saying during an interview with the tech and gaming podcast Same Brain that Microsoft intends to keep the games on PlayStation consoles for "as long as there's a PlayStation out there to ship to."
The future of Call of Duty is a big sticking point in Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Sony, understandably, is worried about Microsoft making the huge hit series an Xbox exclusive; Microsoft has insisted that it has no such intentions (opens in new tab). But those commitments have previously come with a time frame of some sort: In September, for instance, Microsoft guaranteed Call of Duty on PlayStation "for at least several more years beyond the current Sony contract." In response, Sony said the actual time frame of the offer was just three years (opens in new tab).
Perhaps Microsoft is facing more resistance from regulators than it expected, or maybe it's just tired of talking about it. Whatever the reason, Spencer basically made an open-ended promise while speaking on this podcast.
"We're not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation. I know that—which isn't exactly what you asked, but just to like punch that one in the nose, that's not our intent," Spencer said. "Our intent is not to do that, and as long as there's a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we'd continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation, similar to what we've done with Minecraft since we've owned that.
"We've expanded the places where people can play Minecraft, we haven't reduced the places, and it's been good. It's been good for the Minecraft community—my opinion—and I want to do the same as we think about where Call of Duty can go over the years."
Spencer also touched on the topic of Game Pass, another potential point of contention (opens in new tab) with Sony, although he didn't mention the Call of Duty series by name. "For Xbox itself, players who have invested in our console, I think the biggest addition that you're going to see is some great games coming to Game Pass," Spencer said. "This isn't going to be about pulling, as I said, those communities off of other platforms, but I want to be a great place for people to see those games."
It's not a legally binding contract, but the fact that Spencer is willing to make this kind of commitment publicly—and in the midst of multiple regulatory investigations—suggests very strongly to me that Microsoft is prepared to stand behind it. Despite some (largely token) pushback from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, and a rather ridiculous response (opens in new tab) to it, Spencer said Microsoft remains confident that the deal will be approved, likely before the end of the company's current fiscal year, which ends in June 2023.