Sony says Xbox’s Call of Duty acquisition could ‘influence users’ console choice,’ Microsoft responds

A screen shot for Call of Duty Modern Warfare II that shows Operators Ghost and Vargas in a field.
(Image credit: Activision)

Sony has responded to Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, providing further insight into the $68.7 billion deal set to bring Call of Duty and other hit video game franchises under the Xbox owner. Sony stated that Microsoft’s ownership of the Call of Duty brand could “influence users’ console choice,” pushing back on the deal first announced in early 2022.

Sony’s latest comments come via filings from Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), detailing various questions surrounding the acquisition and responses from direct competition.

“[Call of Duty] is synonymous with first-person shooter games and essentially defines that category,” Sony told the Brazilian government body, as translated by VGC. “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.”

Task Force 141 Special Operator Gaz from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Reveal

(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty has been firmly positioned among the biggest names in gaming for over a decade, with annual installments of the first-person shooter franchise regularly topping global sales charts. Sony argues that the influence of the Call of Duty brand, and exhaustive resources provided by Activision, leave rivals unable to compete with the series.

“Each annual Call of Duty release takes around 3-5 years to develop. As Activision releases one Call of Duty game per year, this equates to an annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars,” it stated.

“No other developer can devote the same level of resources and expertise in game development. Even if they could do that, Call of Duty is overly entrenched, so that no rival – no matter how relevant they are – can catch up.”

Sony also states Call of Duty has garnered a dedicated fanbase, with many players “unlikely to switch to alternative games” due to familiarity, investment, and overall brand loyalty accumulated over the years.

Microsoft states Call of Duty “competes” with many popular shooters

Microsoft states Call of Duty “competes” with many popular shooters, including Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Battlefield. (Image credit: Conselho Administrativo De Defesa Econômica)

Microsoft has since responded to concerns, arguing that Call of Duty and other household names within the Activision Blizzard catalog “compete” with a vast number of titles. The firm has also assembled a list of what it considers direct competition to Call of Duty, with subsequent lists for titles like World of Warcraft and Candy Crush.

Sony has previously responded to Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition earlier in 2022, with the PlayStation owner stating it expected “that Microsoft will abide by contractual agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are multiplatform.” Microsoft hasn’t detailed which future projects it plans to ship on Sony platforms, with the Activision Blizzard acquisition awaiting regulatory approval and expected to close sometime in 2023.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.