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Microsoft signs "binding" contract to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms

The deal is contingent on Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard gaining approval.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

February 21, 2023

2 Min Read
A screenshot from Call of Duty

Microsoft has signed a binding 10-year contract to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo players should its proposed Activision Blizzard merger gain approval.

The Xbox maker had already pledged to bring the popular franchise to Nintendo platforms for the next decade, but it seems like that pledge has now been ratified.

Microsoft president and vice chair Brad Smith broke the news with the company en route to a EU hearing, where it hopes to convince the European Commission to back the deal.

The EU has been investigating the $68.7 billion merger since November 2022 over concerns it might reduce competition in the game industry and allow Microsoft to make key Activision Blizzard franchises, including Call of Duty, platform exclusive.

Microsoft has repeatedly played down those fears, and said it would keep Call of Duty on rival platforms for the foreseeable future. Now, according to a statement tweeted out by Smith, it seems that pledge has been set in stone–at least, as far as Nintendo platforms are concerned. There's still, seemingly, no agreement in place between Microsoft and PlayStation maker Sony.

"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," wrote smith.

"Parity" between Microsoft and Nintendo 

The Microsoft president explained the contract means Nintendo players would gain access to new Call of Duty titles on "the same day as Xbox [players], with full feature and content parity."

"We are committed to providing long term equal access to Call of Duty to other gaming platforms, bringing more choice to more players and more competition to the gaming market."

Should the deal go through, it would be interesting to see how Microsoft intends to make good on that promise given the differing capabilities of the Xbox Series X | S and the Nintendo Switch, which lacks the firepower of its more conventional home console counterparts.

It's possible streaming tech could help bridge that divide, with more heavy duty titles like Control and Hitman 3 having previously been brought to the portable device via the power of the cloud.

So, what does all of this mean right now? Well, Microsoft's proposed Activision Blizzard deal is currently being investigated by regulators in the UK and EU, has been blocked by the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, but has gained approval in some countries including Brazil and Saudi Arabia

In short, then, there's still a long way to go until Microsoft's "binding" contract with Nintendo actually takes effect.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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