Microsoft signs 10-year deal to bring ‘Call of Duty’ to Nintendo in push to ease monopoly worries about Activision Blizzard acquisition


Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co. formalized their agreement to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms for a decade, a move designed to allay fears about the blockbuster game becoming an Xbox exclusive.

The two firms have “negotiated and signed a binding 10-year legal agreement” that will see Call of Duty released to Nintendo players the same day and with the same features as its Xbox version, Microsoft President Brad Smith tweeted Tuesday. The Redmond, Washington-based company committed to do so in December, contingent upon its proposed $69 billion acquisition of Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. going through.

The first-person shooter title is at the core of objections — most strongly raised by console rival Sony Group Corp. — to Microsoft’s deal, prompted by concerns that the software giant will gain exclusivity over too big a franchise. Call of Duty is consistently at the top of sales charts and its most recent release has occupied the No. 1 spot in the US since its launch in November, according to market tracker NPD.

Sony has raised concerns about Microsoft making the game exclusive to its platforms, and those fears have been echoed by the UK’s antitrust watchdog, which has suggested Microsoft might be forced to sell off the franchise to complete its Activision takeover. The Nintendo pact is Microsoft’s way of demonstrating its commitment to keeping the games it acquires platform-agnostic, and the company has extended an offer on the same terms to Sony, which the Tokyo-based PlayStation maker has so far declined.

We’ve now signed a binding 10-year contract to bring Xbox games to Nintendo’s gamers. This is just part of our commitment to bring Xbox games and Activision titles like Call of Duty to more players on more platforms.

— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) February 21, 2023

Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.