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Xbox Games Studio CEO Phil Spencer has sworn under oath that he would “do whatever it takes” to keep “Call of Duty” available on the PlayStation 5. The statement came during the ongoing trial between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which sprung up following the FTC’s objection to the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The “Call of Duty” series is one of Activision Blizzard’s most popular franchises, and if these games become an Xbox exclusive it could be a huge blow to competition in the console space.
According to The Verge, Spencer speculated that making the popular shooter exclusive to Xbox would cause a backlash from gamers and actually harm Microsoft’s console brand. He said, “I think as we’ve seen even in preparation for this that gamers are an active and vocal group. Us pulling ‘Call of Duty’ from PlayStation in my view would create irreparable harm for the Xbox brand.” Spencer continued, “my commitment is, and my testimony is, that we will continue to ship future versions of ‘Call of Duty’ on Sony’s PlayStation 5.”
While such a statement might ease fears about Microsoft gaining an unfair advantage over its closest rival, there may be more to it than meets the eye.
The promise may not be as iron-clad as it seems
On the face of it, Phil Spencer’s statement is about as strong as it gets. In a legal sense, if he went back on his word and worked to make “Call of Duty” an Xbox exclusive following a successful acquisition, he would be in very deep trouble. Lying under oath in a legal setting like this is perjury, which is a felony and carries a prison sentence of up to five years in the United States.
Spencer has promised to “raise his hand” and “do whatever it takes” to keep the series on the PlayStation 5. However, in the legal world, words are very important. Spencer is the CEO of Xbox Games Studio and is certainly in a position where he could halt plans to make a game exclusive. Still, the fact he said “PlayStation 5” — and not something like “PlayStation Platform” — could be important in the long run. Consoles have a shelf life, and the PS5 is already three years old.
There will be a point, possibly in the next decade, when games are no longer developed for the PlayStation 5, and Spencer made no promises about keeping “Call of Duty” on the PlayStation 6. The next console generation might hit the shelves as soon as 2027, and Sony has expressed concerns that Microsoft will block “Call of Duty” titles from being released on future versions of the PlayStation. Spencer personally made an oath, but Microsoft as an entity has officially agreed to nothing.