It’s been a messy old week for sony Y Microsoft. After the UK government released Xbox and PlayStation’s full arguments about the Activision Blizzard takeover case into the public domain, media types and gamers alike have been crawling the pages, sniffing out bytes of sarcasm issued by both companies. in an effort to appear smaller than they actually are.
The end game, of course, is for Sony to kick up enough sand that regulators won’t allow Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition deal to go through. Microsoft, on the other hand, wants to make it look like it needs the massive publisher under its belt to survive against Sony and Nintendo. The result? Everyone seems a bit silly, and the back and forth is also bringing a lot of other companies into the mix.
Earlier this week, we saw Microsoft claim that Call of Duty players aren’t unique or special, my favorite line in all of this, so far. We also saw that Microsoft was willing to throw its own exclusives under the bus to appear difficult, as well as calling The Elder Scrolls 6 a “mid-sized” game.
PlayStation is also playing the game; Sony notes that Xbox Game Pass is “significantly ahead” of PS Plus in terms of active subscribers (even though Sony’s service has more than 47 million users, compared to 29 million for Xbox Game Pass).
And we’re not done yet. In comments uncovered in Sony’s 22-page rebuttal to CMA’s query, the platform head casts some shade over EA’s Battlefield. In the document, Sony argues that Call of Duty is an especially important franchise for the PlayStation and cannot be easily replaced by another. Like, say, Battlefield.
“Call of Duty is not replicable,” Sony says in the document. “Call of Duty is too entrenched for any rival, no matter how well equipped, to catch up. It has been the best-selling game for almost every year in the last decade, and in the first-person shooter (‘FPS’) genre, it is overwhelmingly the best-selling game.
“Other publishers don’t have the resources or experience to match its success. To give a concrete example, Electronic Arts, one of the largest third-party developers after Activision, has been trying for many years to produce a rival to Call of Duty with its Series Battlefield Despite the similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield, and despite EA’s track record in developing other successful triple-A franchises (such as FIFA, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Star Wars: Battlefront), the Battlefield franchise It can’t go up.”
The document goes on to note that, as of August 2021, more than 400 million Call of Duty games had been sold, while Battlefield only managed to turn 88.7 million. That’s a gap of more than 300 million, so Sony is right. Especially when you consider that last year’s Battlefield 2042 was a flop (and was already bleeding players dry in February 2022).
This back and forth between Sony and Microsoft is going to get even uglier as time goes on, with much more attention being paid to Call of Duty as both companies do what they can to convince regulators that they’re right.
It’s going to be an interesting few years in video games.