January 25, 2023

Ahead of its impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has announced a 10-year commitment that will see Call of Duty games published on Nintendo platforms again. The deal was announced in a tweet by Phil Spencer, who added that Call of Duty games will also be offered on Steam simultaneously with Xbox for PC players.

Spencer’s tweet is light on details, though the Xbox boss fleshed out some of the details in an interview with The Washington Post, saying the entire Call of Duty portfolio will be evaluated for a possible Switch release. He suggested it could be some time before we see the first Call of Duty title on Switch, with development not able to begin until after the merger deal is in place, which is slated for June 2023 if approved by regulators.

“Once we get into the rhythm of this, our plan would be when [a Call of Duty game] launches on PlayStation, Xbox and PC, that it would also be available on Nintendo at the same time,” Spencer added.

When asked if it would be difficult to port the Call of Duty titles for the Switch, Spencer pointed to Microsoft’s experience shipping Minecraft on the handheld console. “Minecraft and Call of Duty are different games,” he added, “but from how you get games on Nintendo, to how you lead a development team that focuses on multiple platforms, that’s the experience we have.”

While the current deal with Nintendo spans a 10-year period, Spencer says it’s likely Microsoft will continue to work with the company beyond this period. “It’s just about choosing an expiration date, not with the goal of ever expiring, but just like the legalese of a document has to say it’s due on a certain date,” he clarified.

Microsoft still has some regulatory hurdles to clear before its merger with Activision Blizzard is approved by the FTC, although it has already been cleared in other regions. Competitor Sony has exclusively cited Call of Duty’s potential as a reason why the merger shouldn’t be approved, but the company reportedly hasn’t accepted a deal that would keep the franchise on PlayStation for 10 years. “We just haven’t been able to move forward with Sony,” said Spencer The Washington Post when asked about this deal.

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