Editor’s note: This article is part of Day 4 (June 28, 2023) of the FTC vs. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard trial.
In an internal document from Sony has unintentionally exposed highly confidential information regarding the financial value of its PlayStation brand. The document, which was inadvertently disclosed during the ongoing legal battle between the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft, sheds light on the immense revenues generated by the renowned gaming franchise, Call of Duty, exclusively on PlayStation platforms.
The letter in question, authored by PlayStation head honcho Jim Ryan, takes center stage in this unfolding saga. Unfortunately for Sony, the redactions on the document proved inadequate, leaving a trail of revealing information. Among the revelations, it discloses that Call of Duty alone raked in over a staggering $800 million in the United States during the year 2021.
The popularity of the Call of Duty franchise comes as no surprise, given its long-standing dominance in the gaming industry. The latest installment, Modern Warfare II, achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the fastest-selling Call of Duty game to surpass the $1 billion mark in 2022. These impressive numbers only reinforce the game’s status as a powerhouse in the gaming realm.
However, the document’s disclosure extends beyond Call of Duty‘s financial prowess. It provides an intriguing glimpse into the budgets allocated to two of PlayStation’s first-party titles. According to the internal document, Horizon Forbidden West incurred production costs amounting to $212 million, while The Last of Us Part II boasted a formidable budget of $220 million. These figures underscore the substantial investments required to develop high-quality, blockbuster games in the modern gaming landscape.
Perhaps even more captivating are the findings from internal surveys conducted by Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). Jim Ryan revealed that nearly half of PlayStation 5 users in the United States also own a Nintendo Switch, indicating a significant overlap in ownership between the two consoles. In contrast, the survey unveiled a smaller percentage—less than 20 percent—of PS5 owners who possess an Xbox Series X or Series S console. These statistics shed light on the intriguing dynamics within the gaming community and highlight the diverse preferences and gaming habits of players.
Adding another layer of intrigue to this narrative, it has been reported that a staggering one million PlayStation players exclusively engage in Call of Duty games. This statistic serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of the franchise and the dedicated community it has fostered.
While the inadvertent disclosure of this internal document has provided fascinating insights into the inner workings of Sony and its PlayStation brand, it is important to note that the document has since been swiftly withdrawn. It was initially submitted as evidence in the ongoing evidentiary hearing between the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft. The proceedings revolve around Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a major player in the gaming industry.