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Gabe Newell shrugs off Microsoft's legal commitment to keep Call Of Duty on Steam

If you haven’t heard, Microsoft are currently trying to buy Activision Blizzard. Competition regulators from the UK, the EU and the US have been questioning the deal, so in an attempt to reassure them last month Microsoft apparently offered Sony a ten-year commitment to keep selling Call Of Duty on Playstation. Today, Xbox Head Phill Spencer announced that they’ve made a similar 10-year CoD commitment to Steam and, uh, Nintendo, on which no CoD games currently exist.

Nintendo have signed, while Valve CEO Gabe Newell says his company won’t bother with a legal agreement, in part because they don’t believe in “requiring any partner to have an agreement that locks them to shipping games on Steam into the distant future”.

Newell gave that quote to Kotaku, where he further laid out their reasoning:

“Microsoft offered and even sent us a draft agreement for a long-term Call of Duty commitment but it wasn’t necessary for us because a) we’re not believers in requiring any partner to have an agreement that locks them to shipping games on Steam into the distant future b) Phil and the games team at Microsoft have always followed through on what they told us they would do so we trust their intentions and c) we think Microsoft has all the motivation they need to be on the platforms and devices where Call of Duty customers want to be.”

It’s worth noting CoD actually only recently returned to Steam, after five years of being stuck on Activision’s own launcher.

Phil Spencer has said that he’d like to see CoD available on as many platforms as possible, which is exactly what you would say when legal folks are trying to shut down your big acquisition deal on the basis that you might not. Offering legally binding deals is a different matter, with internal sources at the American FTC already suggesting that strategy might be working.

The new deal with Nintendo also means they can publicly do this, now:

Our acquisition will bring Call of Duty to more gamers and more platforms than ever before. That’s good for competition and good for consumers. Thank you @Nintendo. Any day @Sony wants to sit down and talk, we’ll be happy to hammer out a 10-year deal for PlayStation as well.

— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) December 7, 2022

Sony’s objections are of course rooted in self-interest, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Ten years doesn’t even strike me as that long when you’re talking about Call of Duty, which I fully expect will be available on my total-immersion VR death bed.

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