According to recent reports, Microsoft’s lawyers suddenly said that Microsoft does not know why Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty” is so special, or even “Call of Duty” originally released time.
Last January, Microsoft announced that it would buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, emphasizing that the acquisition would help the company acquire several “iconic gaming IPs,” including Call of Duty, Warcraft and Candy Crush Saga, among others. Subsequently, gamers and regulators feared that Microsoft might stop offering the Call of Duty franchise on Sony’s PlayStation platform. Recently Microsoft’s lawyers suddenly said that Microsoft does not know why Call of Duty is so special, or even when Call of Duty was originally released.
Previously, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tried to block this acquisition by Microsoft through a lawsuit. Microsoft then responded to the FTC with a 37-page response, one paragraph of which reads.
“Microsoft claims that there is insufficient knowledge or information to determine that industry perceptions about Call of Duty and its initial release date are true, or that claims about Call of Duty’s launch and typical launch schedule, and the resources and budget that Activision has allocated to Call of Duty, including the number of studios working on Call of Duty, are true. “
This claim by Microsoft is hardly convincing. Much of the information Microsoft is asking the FTC to prove is available in a Google search, and Microsoft must already have many details, including the budgets and an approximate number of employees at each of the studios working on Call of Duty.
First, Activision Blizzard would have provided this detailed information during due diligence on the deal before Microsoft announced it would acquire Activision Blizzard. Second, even if Activision Blizzard had not volunteered, Microsoft would have conducted extensive research. For example, in response to the lawsuit between Epic and Apple, Microsoft’s Games Business Planning and Strategy team produced a 67-page document that analyzed all of Microsoft’s major competitors in detail and even estimated much non-public information, such as $359 million in 2019 revenue for Sony’s PlayStation Now cloud gaming business.
Thus, Microsoft is likely playing dumb on purpose. The push to make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive has been a topic of great interest to Microsoft, despite repeated insistence by Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s gaming business, that Call of Duty will continue to be available through rival game consoles.
Nintendo and Microsoft have reached an agreement to keep Call of Duty on Nintendo platforms for 10 years after Activision Blizzard was acquired. Microsoft has also offered Sony a 10-year extension after Sony previously rejected a three-year extension. Sony has not yet responded to the new proposal.