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Microsoft offers Call of Duty to Sony subscription service

In an effort to gain regulatory approval to purchase Activision Blizzard Inc. valued at $69 billion, Microsoft Corp. rival Sony Group Corp. offered the right to sell Activision blockbuster Call of Duty as part of its gaming subscription service.

Microsoft has publicly stated that it has offered Sony a 10-year deal to make Call of Duty available on the Japanese company’s PlayStation console. The proposal, which Sony has not accepted, also includes rights to sell the title through the PlayStation Plus service, which gives gamers access to a catalog of games for a monthly fee, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who declined to be identified. to become. because the conversations are confidential.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is the leader in the video game subscription and cloud gaming market and is a top priority of regulators in the US, UK and European Union. Last week, the US Federal Trade Commission said it is seeking to block the merger because it would “allow Microsoft to stifle competitors from its Xbox gaming consoles and its burgeoning subscription content and cloud gaming business.”

Cloud gaming, which Microsoft sells as part of the top tier of Game Pass, is still in its infancy. But some expect that the technology, which allows subscribers to stream certain games to any device, even tablets and phones, could eventually make consoles less relevant. Subscriptions give gamers access to a wealth of games for a low price of around $10 to $15 per month, compared to single game titles costing around $70 each.

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Microsoft declined to comment on the specific terms of the offer to Sony.

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Sony has been a staunch opponent of Microsoft’s bid for Activision, accusing the company of “wanting to tie many consumers to Xbox” and using its other products to “shield cloud gaming at a critical point in its evolution.” Analysts wonder if Sony’s criticism stems from uncertainty that the Japanese tech company is lagging behind Microsoft in diversifying into console gaming. Sony usually releases its best first-party games on PlayStation long before they appear anywhere else.

Launched in 2017, Game Pass has grown rapidly and now has over 25 million subscribers, far more than Sony’s comparable offering. Microsoft added cloud gaming to Game Pass in 2020, and more than 20 million gamers have streamed games from the cloud using the service, according to the FTC. Microsoft has said cloud gaming subscription services are essential to achieving its goal of expanding to 3 billion gamers worldwide, and its vision of enabling gamers to play games on Windows, Xbox and smartphones.

Microsoft signed a 10-year deal for Call of Duty with Nintendo Co. last week. Microsoft declined to say whether that agreement included subscription service rights.

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