Sony Says Call Of Duty Is An ‘Essential Game’ Series While Microsoft Argues It Ain’t

Sony Says Call Of Duty Is An ‘Essential Game’ Series While Microsoft Argues It Ain’t
Image: Activision

Microsoft, in a bid to downplay the possible ramifications of its attempted acquisition of Activision to various international regulating agencies, is arguing that the Call of Duty publisher it’s spending billions of dollars on doesn’t actually produce any games that could be considered “must haves.” Meanwhile, Sony is pushing back and explaining that Call of Duty games are “essential” and even influence some people’s console-buying decisions.

Since Microsoft announced its intentions to buy up Activision Blizzard back in January of this year, the company has spent months bouncing around the world, arguing with lawmakers and regulatory groups in an effort to show why this deal is totally fine and not bad for the industry. One way the Xbox company is doing this is by arguing that Activision Blizzard doesn’t release games that are so big and unique that the acquisition would stifle competition with other game companies, stores, or console makers.

You can find an example of this tactic in a report from the New Zealand Commerce Commission published in June. In the doc, Microsoft claimed that there is “nothing unique about the video games developed and published” by Activision — a company it’s spending nearly $US70 ($AU100.7) billion on — further adding that none of the games, including military shooter franchise Call of Duty, are “must have” games for any rival gaming company or distributor.

Read More: Everything That’s Happened In The Activision Blizzard Lawsuit

As you might expect, not everyone agrees with Microsoft’s assertion that owning one of the biggest video game franchises in the world won’t provide Xbox with some sort of advantage over its competition. Specifically, Sony has pushed back against the proposed Xbox / Activision deal in new legal docs out of Brazil.

As reported by VGC and users on ResetEra, Sony’s responses to questions from the Brazilian government about the Microsoft/Activision deal were published online and it shows that the PlayStation company believes Call of Duty is an “essential” AAA game, one that could help sell more consoles for whoever controls it.

According to a 2019 study, ‘The importance of Call of Duty to entertainment, in general, is indescribable.’ The brand was the only video game IP to break into the top 10 of all entertainment brands among fans, joining powerhouses such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings.

Call of Duty is so popular that it influences users’ choice of console, and its community of loyal users is entrenched enough that even if a competitor had the budget to develop a similar product, it would not be able to rival it.

Neither Microsoft’s response nor Sony’s pushback should be surprising. When buying such a large company as Activision, it makes sense to downplay how big or influential the company actually is when speaking to regulators or government officials, as these people could cause headaches for Xbox or even stop the deal entirely.

And of course, Sony doesn’t want to lose Call of Duty, a game that regularly tops the best-selling games on PlayStation charts each year. Sure, Microsoft has signalled that Call of Duty will remain a multiplatform franchise, but contractually it’s reported that after three games, Call of Duty could leave PlayStation and become a console exclusive for Xbox. So it makes sense that Sony is trying to play up how important the long-running FPS series is to PlayStation and the video game industry.

As other regulatory groups and more governments continue or begin poking and prodding at the Activision Blizzard deal, it’s likely we will continue to see Microsoft downplay the company’s size and scope while Xbox’s competitors do the exact opposite in an attempt to stop what could be one of biggest examples of video game consolidation we’ve seen yet.



  • I’m not a fan so it has zero impact on me personally but it’s wildly disingenuous to pretend it’s not a massively important and influential series in the gaming world.

  • Never played them, so NOT must have.

    I still find it hilarious that Sony is arguing this while they still maintain an exclusive game roster, especially since the rumor is SquareEnix sold of its Western publishers so they can more enticing for Sony to buy them out.

    • You think a single random nobody like you not playing them must mean they’re not must have games, that it somehow negates the fact they’re incredibly huge and popular games in the industry? Did you roll out of bed directly onto the top of your head this morning and forget how the English language works?

      • There term is ESSENTIAL, as in “absolutely necessary”, if “Nobody” thinks it’s necessary… why does Sony?

        They also lost 30 million players, so I not the only body that think it’s a not must have game anymore either.

        And how is your sleep, clearly you woke up out of bed worse than me to come out swinging insults like that.

    • It’s not about in-house exclusives though, nobody is debating games like Horizon or Forza, we’re talking about a hugely influential multi platform series with indisputable brand power, even with its ups and downs.
      I don’t play the games either but it’s impossible to ignore it’s place in the landscape over several generations, for better or worse.

      As for the Square Enix rumours, it’s two completely different things at point.
      It’s hard to compare something that hasn’t happened with something that is and having very real and measured effects.

      • How does that analogy apply here.

        Food is ESSENTIAL.
        Call of Duty isn’t, people’s survival doesn’t depend on them getting a daily fix of COD.

        Sony use of the word essential, means without Call of Duty, they will die as a company. That without Activision supplying them 1 game, there whole business model will implode.

  • Definitely an uphill battle for Microsoft on this one, all Sony has to do is pull out the real world numbers to prove their point. Not that they should be complaining about exclusivity, it’s the only reason I’ve ever owned any Playstation console otherwise I would only have PC/Xbox.

  • I like most people hate that Sony does exclusives but I hate that Microsoft are taking multi platforms away from Sony purely because Microsoft always preach playing games wherever you want, whenever you want.

  • There is a world of difference between developing exclusive gaming franchises in-house and turning an existing multi-platform hit franchise into an exclusive franchise by throwing around a tonne of cash. Funny how some people can’t see how that’s different.

  • COD hasn’t been “essential” for me since Modern Warfare came out over a decade ago. The player drops on their current installments suggests even its own customers don’t think it’s all that essential either.

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