The back-and-forth between Microsoft and Sony over the former's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard (opens in new tab) continues. This time, Microsoft chief communications officer Frank Shaw has taken to Twitter to accuse Sony of misleading EU regulators over Microsoft's plans for the Call of Duty franchise in the event the acquisition goes through.
"I hear Sony is briefing people in Brussels claiming Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision," wrote Shaw (via VGC), before claiming that "Nothing could be further from the truth". He goes on to reference Microsoft's much-ballyhooed "10 year deal to give [Sony] parity on timing, content, features, quality, playability, and any other aspect of the game".
That's an offer that Microsoft's been dangling in Sony's face since at least November (opens in new tab), but it hasn't been taken up yet. Well, not by Sony, anyway. Nintendo inked a basically identical parity deal (opens in new tab) with Microsoft in December, despite CoD's total lack of presence on Switch.
Shaw goes on to say, well, a lot of things Microsoft has said before across countless tweets, press releases, competition authority filings, and op-eds in the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab). Shaw says that, since PlayStation is the market leader, it'd be a baffling choice to summarily withhold one of Activision's biggest series from the platform. And hey, he adds, remember how generous Microsoft has been with Minecraft? If the company didn't lock up one of the biggest and best-selling games of all time, why would it do it with CoD?
To be fair to Shaw, he has a point, and if Sony really is whispering to EU regulators that Microsoft wants to keep CoD all to itself, that's definitely dirty pool. But a 10-year deal isn't quite full parity, and even if Phil Spencer says Microsoft will put CoD on PlayStation "as long as there's a PlayStation out there (opens in new tab)," Sony would be remiss not to focus on what the company is actually willing to put to paper.
Plus, surely EU regulators are well-aware of the saga up to this point? Microsoft has been trumpeting its 10-year offer to anyone who will listen and several people who won't, so it's hardly a secret. I can't imagine there are many high-powered Brussels politicos who would actually fall prey to untruths about what Microsoft is willing to offer Sony, wouldn't they all be well-aware of the proffered deal by now?
I suppose we'll see. The conflict over Activision doesn't look set to abate any time soon, but Microsoft certainly seems to be in a bit of rough patch at the moment. It reportedly faces an antitrust warning from the EU (opens in new tab), laid off 10,000 people a couple of weeks ago, and to top it off, it recently had to sheepishly walk back accusations of unconstitutionality (opens in new tab) it made in a filing to the FTC. Who knows what the future holds?