Ahead of its pending 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 continue to be offered for PC players on Steam simultaneously with Xbox.
Microsoft has entered into a 10-year commitment to bring Call of Duty to @Nintendo following the merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King. Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people – however they choose to play. @ATVI_AB
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 7, 2022
Spencer’s tweet is light on details, though the Xbox head elaborated on some details in an interview with The Washington Post, saying that the entire Call of Duty portfolio will be evaluated for a potential Switch release. He suggested that it could be some time before we will see the first Call of Duty title on Switch, with development only able to start after the merger deal is closed, which is scheduled for June 2023 if approved by regulators.
“Once we get into the rhythm of this, our plan would be that 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 with shipping Minecraft on the handheld console. “Minecraft and Call of Duty are different games,” he added, “But from how you get games onto Nintendo, how you run a development team that is targeting multiple platforms, that’s experience we have.”
While the current deal with Nintendo covers a 10 year span, Spencer says it’s likely Microsoft will continue to work with the company beyond this period. “It’s just about picking an expiration date, not with the goal of ever expiring, but just like, the legalese of a document has to say this goes through some date,” he clarified.
Microsoft still has some regulatory hurdles to pass before its merger with Activision Blizzard is approved by the FTC, though it has already been cleared in other regions. Competitor Sony has raised the potential of Call of Duty becoming exclusive as a reason why the merger shouldn’t be approved, however the company reportedly has not accepted a deal that would keep the franchise on PlayStation for 10 years. “We just have not been able to make progress with Sony,” Spencer told The Washington Post when asked about this deal.