Microsoft has agreed a 10-year deal to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo if its buyout of Activision Blizzard goes through.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer tweeted the announcement, which also confirms the company's commitment to continue to release Call of Duty games on Valve's Steam platform "simultaneously to Xbox", if the gargantuan $69 billion offer to buy Activision Blizzard is approved. Call of Duty's latest releases, Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0, are already on Steam.
I'm also pleased to confirm that Microsoft has committed to continue to offer Call of Duty on @Steam simultaneously to Xbox after we have closed the merger with Activision Blizzard King. @ATVI_AB @ValveSoftware— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 7, 2022
The announcement is a direct response to the scrutiny the acquisition has come under from a raft of organisations across the world, chief among them the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK.
Microsoft hopes to convince regulators it will not block Call of Duty from platforms made by rival companies.
Microsoft has offered a similar 10-year deal to bring Call of Duty to PlayStation consoles, but so far Sony has refused to agree to it, and in public statements has claimed the takeover would reduce choice for gamers.
"There's been some question about whether what we're saying is actually how we're acting, and I think having two major industry partners kind of show that our intent is real and that we can reach agreements is an important thing in this time," Spencer told the New York Times in an interview published alongside the announcement.
"We're happy that Microsoft wants to continue using Steam to reach customers with Call of Duty when their Activision acquisition closes," Valve boss Gabe Newell said.
"Microsoft has been on Steam for a long time and we take it as a signal that they are happy with gamers' reception to that and the work we are doing."
Sony declined to comment.
The announcement raises questions about the viability of Call of Duty games on Nintendo platforms. Currently, there are no Call of Duty games on Nintendo Switch, which seems an unlikely platform for a port of an existing mainline Call of Duty game. It seems more likely Activision Blizzard would need to create a bespoke version of Call of Duty to run on Nintendo's console - or future consoles, depending on their capability. Speaking to the New York Times, Spencer said there was "definitely work" to be done to make Call of Duty run well on the Switch.
The FTC reportedly looks set to approve the buyout. Microsoft and Activision have previously said they expect the deal to be finalised before the middle of 2023.