Microsoft has sealed its long-awaited deal for Activision Blizzard, and it's paid $69bn (£56bn) for the privilege.

That's a lot of money, but what does the deal actually mean for people the next time they pick up a video game?

Will Call of Duty still be on PlayStation?

This is the big question fans keep asking.

Call of Duty is one of the biggest-selling video game franchises of all time, ranking behind just Mario, Tetris and Pokemon.

The good news for Sony fans is it will be 2038 before it's even possible that the game could be an Xbox exclusive.

That's because Ubisoft has signed a deal giving it "cloud gaming" rights for every Activision Blizzard game, past and future, for 15 years.

Visitors line up at Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed" video game booth on the opening day of the "Paris Games Week" in November 2022Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Ubisoft is perhaps best known as the developer and publisher of stealthy action-adventure franchise Assassin's Creed

Microsoft had to agree to this to get the deal past UK regulators, who were worried about the company dominating the cloud industry.

If you don't know – cloud gaming is when people stream games over the internet – the much-touted "Netflix for games".

The big subscription services in gaming right now include Ubisoft+, as well as Sony's PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass.

So, will Call of Duty be on Game Pass?

In a post on X on Monday, Activision Blizzard said it expects to start adding its titles to Game Pass starting next year – meaning it's quite possible the new Call of Duty, amongst other games, will be playable on Xbox from day one.

Prior to this deal, Sony was usually the company benefiting from exclusives with Call of Duty – often meaning early access to the game, testing, and bonus features – but now that may well be a thing of the past.

And critically, Microsoft has a habit of making its big blockbuster games available to play on Game Pass, for a monthly fee, on the first day they release.

Gamers queue up to play Bethesda's Starfield at Gamescom 2023Image source, EPA-EFEImage caption, Bethesda, which is owned by Microsoft, launched its new game Starfield in 2023 – but only on Xbox and PC

It's up to gamers to decide for themselves whether it's a better deal to buy the game or pay to access it.

But it is worth noting this concerned the UK regulator so much it made sure Activision Blizzard games couldn't be streamed exclusively on Xbox for 15 years.

That might be because Microsoft has form here – when the hotly anticipated Starfield came out in September 2023 to critical acclaim, it was available exclusively on PC and Xbox, and playable on Game Pass from day one.

If games are still on PlayStation, what's in it for Microsoft?

Even with games still able to appear on PlayStation, it's Microsoft who will be winning out.

Ubisoft may have the streaming rights to Activision Blizzard games for 15 years, but increasingly nowadays game companies make much more money from in-game purchases, also known as microtransactions.

According to Statista, the firm raked in $5.89bn in 2022 from microtransactions, downloadable content and royalties – more than three times the $1.6bn it made from selling the games themselves.

Sony gets around a 30% cut of purchases made in-game, though the exact figures will change between games. Either way – it means an in-game purchase in Call of Duty on PlayStation will now be directly funding a rival.

What do fans think?

BBC Newsbeat spoke to fans at gaming convention EGX this week to get their take on the deal, with Oliver, 16, saying he thought it might be good news for Call of Duty.

"It will just expand the market for gaming, because it's a company with more money to fund the games," he said.

Meanwhile Sophie, who was named Ubisoft's content creator of the year, told the BBC she "just wants the games to win".

"We want everyone to be able to play video games that they want to play, we want them to be accessible for everyone," she said.

"Obviously, we're going to have our opinions, but if the end result is good games, that's fine with us."

This Instagram post cannot be displayed in your browser. Please enable Javascript or try a different browser.View original content on InstagramThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.Skip instagram post by cadaea

Allow Instagram content?

This article contains content provided by Instagram. We ask for your permission before anything is loaded, as they may be using cookies and other technologies. You may want to read Meta’s Instagram cookie policy, external and privacy policy, external before accepting. To view this content choose ‘accept and continue’.

Accept and continueThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.End of instagram post by cadaea

But not everyone is positive.

Once upon a time, Activision games Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon were PlayStation exclusives, and some fans don't want to see a permanent switch to Microsoft somewhere down the line.

It's even led some fans to make petitions calling for Microsoft to keep the games playable on all consoles in perpetuity.

What does it mean for the UK?

Activision Blizzard alone has studios in London, Guildford and Warrington. The business also owns King, the Stockholm and London-based makers of Candy Crush Saga.

Candy Crush Saga logo displayed on a phone screen and Candy Crush website displayed in the backgroundImage source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Activision Blizzard itself owns many developers, including the maker of Candy Crush Saga

Altogether this deal means more UK studios coming under the control of Microsoft.

Ukie, the body that represents games companies, told the BBC that this kind of international investment was "a crucial part" of the UK industry. According to a spokesperson, 89% of the total investment in the UK games industry between January 2017 and June 2022 came from non-UK companies.

So from the side of simply paying for games to be made, this kind of money makes a big difference.

What games does Microsoft now own?

Teams compete in the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship at Blizzcon in 2018Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, World of Warcraft now comes under the Microsoft umbrella

It expands an already massive gaming empire owned by the US company.

Gamers who grew up with the N64 will recall Microsoft's shock purchase of GoldenEye 007 developer Rare for $375m in 2002, who up until then had specialised in Nintendo games.

But modern players might be more familiar with Microsoft buying up Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5bn in 2014 – meaning it owns the best-selling game of all time.

The business has used a slew of savvy acquisitions like the above to try to muster the same dominance it's had in computing in gaming.

It now owns more than 20 different gaming studios altogether.

We've mentioned several big games already, but there's even more which are about to fall under Microsoft's umbrella.

It's a long list, but some of the big names include:

  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
  • World of Warcraft
  • Diablo
  • Overwatch
  • Candy Crush Saga

That's a lot of massively popular games that are about to fall under Microsoft's ownership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *