In a significant announcement, Microsoft has signed a 10-year deal with Nintendo to make Call of Duty available to Nintendo players on the same day as Xbox with “full feature and content parity.” The deal was announced in December 2022, but Microsoft’s Brad Smith has now provided more details ahead of a hearing with EU regulators about the company’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard.
As part of Microsoft’s attempt to pressure Sony into accepting a similar offer and allay regulatory competition concerns, the Nintendo deal is a significant development. Sony has emerged as a key opponent of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition, arguing that it risks reducing competition by locking key franchises like Call of Duty to Xbox consoles and Microsoft services like Game Pass.
While the details of the agreement do not offer specifics on which other Xbox games would be included, Smith has suggested that a similar deal is on the table for Sony. However, Jim Ryan, the chief of PlayStation, previously called Microsoft’s offer “inadequate on many levels.”
The news of the deal comes as Microsoft prepares to plead its case to EU regulators, including representatives from Activision Blizzard, Sony, Google, NVIDIA, Valve, Electronic Arts, the European Games Developer Federation, and over half a dozen different national competition watchdogs. The EU reportedly issued a formal antitrust warning to Microsoft over the deal earlier this month, expressing concerns over the deal’s impact on fair competition in the video game market.
Despite facing opposition from UK and US regulators, Microsoft is confident that it can address the European Commission’s concerns. Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said, “We are committed to solutions and finding a path forward for this deal” and that the company is “listening carefully to the concerns.”
As for the specifics of the deal with Nintendo, the statement from Microsoft says that the deal is to bring Call of Duty games to “Nintendo players,” without mentioning specific hardware like the Nintendo Switch. The last Call of Duty game to release on a Nintendo console was 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Wii U.
While the impact of the deal on the video game market remains to be seen, it is clear that Microsoft is making a significant effort to allay competition concerns and bring one of the most popular gaming franchises to a wider audience.