To satisfy regulators, Microsoft is committed to continuing to publish Activision Blizzard games for the PlayStation even after distribution agreements with Sony expire.
The company made the statement as the US Federal Trade Commission reviews Microsoft’s $68.7 billion plan to buy Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft has already announced plans to keep Activision’s Call of Duty franchise on the PlayStation platform. But technically, it only committed to honoring Activision’s “existing agreements” with Sony, which naturally raised questions about how long this Call of Duty support would last.
On Wednesday, Microsoft tried to clear things up. The company reiterated that it “will continue to make Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available” on PlayStation through existing agreements. “And we’ve made a commitment to Sony to also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and in the future so Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love,” wrote the Microsoft President Brad Smith in a blog post.
“We are also interested in taking similar steps to support Nintendo’s successful platform,” he added. “We believe this is the right thing for the industry, for the players and for our business.”
The statements point out that none of Activision Blizzard’s major titles will be exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox. Instead, Smith said the company’s goal is “to more easily reach every gamer across all platforms.”
Open App Store Principles
The majority of Smith’s blog posts focus on app stores. To stay ahead of regulators, the software giant is committing to a set of “Open App Store Principles” for the Microsoft Store on Windows and for upcoming “next-generation markets” focused on on games.
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The principles are designed to ensure that Microsoft’s app stores operate fairly without restricting the choice of third-party developers. For example, one principle states that Microsoft will treat all “apps equally in our app store without unreasonable preference or ranking of our apps.” The company’s app stores will also allow third-party developers to use their own payment systems, unlike Apple, which is fighting in court to retain control.
However, Microsoft only applies seven of the 11 principles to the existing Xbox console store as of today. The remaining principles, which will allow developers to use their own payment systems and communicate with customers, will be implemented later.
Smith justified the decision, citing how Microsoft relies on the Xbox console store to recoup manufacturing costs. “Game consoles, in particular, are sold to gamers at a loss to establish a robust and viable ecosystem for game developers. Costs are recouped later through revenue generated from the dedicated console store,” he said. “Nevertheless, we recognize that we will need to adapt our business model even for the store on the Xbox console.”
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