Xbox offers an olive branch to Nintendo to end console wars

Nintendo players might be able to play Xbox games for 10 years if Microsoft acquires Activision Blizzard.
Christopher McFadden

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If Microsoft's plan to buy Activision Blizzard is approved, the highly popular "Call of Duty" franchise could be coming to Nintendo one day very soon. In an official announcement, the company says it has made promises that are now ostensibly legally binding and will require that future "Call of Duty" games be released on the same day as Xbox "with complete feature and content parity."

According to a statement from the firm, "We are committed to providing [equal long-term] access to Call of Duty on other gaming platforms, bringing more choice to more players and more competition to the gaming market."

The last "Call of Duty" game to be released on a Nintendo console was "Call of Duty: Ghosts" on the Wii U, which was released in 2013 and featured motion controls for the Wii Remote.

The statement comes just before a European Union hearing that Microsoft will attend later on Tuesday to defend itself against antitrust charges following complaints about the $69 billion transaction.

By all accounts, this very profitable franchise is one of the most significant issues for antitrust regulators looking into Microsoft's possible purchase.

Regulators have expressed concerns about the effect Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal could have on PlayStation's ability to compete, given that the merger would see Microsoft acquire ownership of the "Call of Duty" franchise, despite Microsoft promising to offer Sony a similar ten-year agreement to the one given to Nintendo.

According to Sony Interactive Entertainment, if the agreement were to go through, "Microsoft would have the ability and incentive to exclude or restrict rivals, including PlayStation and PlayStation Plus, from having access to Call of Duty."

It stated that "in the mid-term, [many] PlayStation users would likely switch to Xbox and/or Game Pass."

Sony also pointed out that “faced with weaker competition, Microsoft would be able to: increase console and game prices for Xbox users (including those that switched from PlayStation); increase the price of Game Pass; and reduce innovation and quality.”

Microsoft stated to Politico last week that it was dedicated to "finding a path forward" for the contract in response to the EU's most recent statement of reservations. A spokeswoman stated, "We are listening carefully to the European Commission’s concerns and are confident we can address them."

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