We live in the age of “publish it now, fix it later” game development. Way too many video games are rushed out the door to meet deadlines, usually at the cost of a title’s performance. This unfortunate practice results in more and more games being released with more and more bugs. Now, PlayStation is insinuating that Xbox may actually weaponize those glitches.
On February 22, Sony published its observations on the remedies proposed by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regarding Microsoft’s proposed purchase of Activision Blizzard. Unsurprisingly, Sony is still against the merger and believes Call of Duty is such a big deal that Microsoft could single-handedly wipe its competition off the map should it turn the franchise into an Xbox exclusive. Of course, the CMA came to that conclusion too.
However, Microsoft reps have stated multiple times they have no intention of withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation. Microsoft is so open to the prospect of non-Xbox gamers playing Call of Duty that it entered a 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring the franchise to the Switch (and presumably Nintendo’s next console). However, it seems that Sony believes Microsoft could push the advantages of playing Call of Duty on Xbox in different ways.
One section of Sony’s document, The Different Mechanisms Available To Microsoft To Avoid Its Obligations, chronicles all the ways Microsoft could make PlayStation ports of Call of Duty inferior while still technically upholding its promise to publish the game on PS5. Arguably the most ludicrous claim is that Microsoft could intentionally publish PlayStation versions of Call of Duty “where bugs and errors emerge only on the game’s final level or after updates.” Yes, Sony is arguing that Microsoft would intentionally withhold patches from PS5 copies of Call of Duty to turn audiences off that console. That, or Sony just claimed Microsoft executives would command game developers to intentionally insert bugs into PS5 Call of Duty code just to get rid of the console as competition in the FPS market. Wow. Just…wow.
Understandably, virtually nobody is falling for this claim. Many people on Twitter have called Sony out on this statement. Some claimed that the mere attempt to make such an argument is an insult to human intelligence, while others have stated the document and its claim are downright lies and slander (technically libel since slander applies to defamatory oral statements, but you get the idea). Even Microsoft weighed in on the matter when a company spokesperson provided the following statement to Eurogamer:
Since the CMA issued its Provisional Findings, we have offered solutions which address its concerns and increase the deal’s benefits to UK players and game developers. These include a guarantee of parity between Xbox and PlayStation on access to Call of Duty and legally binding commitments to ensure that Call of Duty is available to at least 150 million more players on other consoles and cloud streaming platforms once the deal closes.
In other words, Microsoft representatives are promising their company will not, intentionally or otherwise, hamstring Call of Duty performance on rival consoles should the acquisition of Activision go through.
Sony’s observation document is full of other ridiculous examples of how Microsoft could potentially hamstring Call of Duty on PlayStation, but it seems like the internet has already made up its mind. All it took was one overblown example of what Microsoft could do in a hypothetical future where it owned Activision, and now most audiences are calling Sony out on both the claim itself and the nerve to make it. Sony might have shot itself in the foot with this move, but that remains to be seen. It’s certainly clear at this point that they’re willing to do pretty much anything to ensure this deal doesn’t go through.