Sony worries “sophisticated” Call of Duty players will leave for Xbox

By Lee Brady,

Sony has voiced concerns that "passionate, knowledgeable, and sophisticated" Call of Duty players can be swayed from PlayStation to Xbox in the future.

Many months after "knowledgeable" players got first their hands on those Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 trophies, here we are, still reporting on Sony's reactions to the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. This time, Sony has doubled down on its belief that Microsoft will make inferior Call of Duty games for PlayStation consoles, fearing any dip below the high-quality mark of its best PS5 games will have players abandon ship for Xbox.

Call of DutySophisticated Call of Duty players caught in the discourse.

Sony responds to CMA siding with Microsoft on Activision deal

The CMA — the UK regulator overseeing Microsoft's acquisition — recently relaxed its stance on Microsoft's potential ownership of Call of Duty after agreeing that, to keep the franchise profitable, Call of Duty needs PlayStation. This moves Microsoft one step closer to owning Call of Duty; so, as you would expect, Sony sent its own response, in which it calls the CMA's reversed position "surprising, unprecedented, and irrational."

The purpose of Sony's latest report is founded on the hope that the CMA should revise its previous report's findings on account of a number of "errors" Sony believes it has spotted. This includes corrections for the figures used by the CMA to conclude that Call of Duty "would be significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario" for Microsoft — although, for the most part, this is Sony fighting speculation with speculation, so its persuasiveness seems dubious at best.

Call of DutyThe line.

Sony's argument then gets rather strained as it leans harder on Jim Ryan's belief that Microsoft could impair Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles. The fear here is that Call of Duty players are so "passionate, knowledgeable, and sophisticated," and that gamers, in general, are so perceptive to deteriorating quality in games that any dip in Call of Duty's quality on PlayStation would have players jumping over to Xbox.

To back this argument up, Sony includes a number of figures and charts tracking gamer satisfaction and conversation habits, which presumably correlate somehow to players leaving PlayStation due to problems with perceived quality. The report also at one point directly quotes Jim Ryan, Sony's own boss, in a bid to back up its own beliefs that the quality of PlayStation's output is a tangible risk factor and that a worse-performing Call of Duty could "quickly harm SIE's reputation" and, in Ryan's words, have gamers "desert our platform."

sony-kratos-cod-microsoftOh god, it's happening again.

To be clear, these are all terrible arguments on Sony's part. That's not to say Sony doesn't make a few good points, particularly when it calls out the CMA's newly relaxed view on Microsoft making its IPs exclusive upon purchase. These points get quickly undermined, however, as the PlayStation owner makes the exact kind of logical leaps it supposedly wants the CMA to correct in its own report.

For example: if Microsoft releases a weaker version of Call of Duty on PlayStation and customers are perceptive enough to know not to buy it, wouldn't this hurt the profits Microsoft desperately needs? Does Sony really believe Call of Duty players are so quality-driven that they would purchase an entire Xbox console to maintain it? And then, if that is how these customers behave, why are so many players still buying the PS4 version of Modern Warfare 2?

cod-sonyWill it ever end?

It's simply a terrible argument, and it leads us back here, to Sony's original weak argument against Microsoft owning Call of Duty. It's pretty telling that in all this concern for the company's reputation, more thought is being put into the idea of a scenario in which Call of Duty's quality damages PlayStation, and seemingly no thought has gone into the idea that Sony's terrible arguments make it sound desperate and weak to its own audience.

Do you think Sony's latest argument will change the tide for Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard? Will you move to Xbox if Call of Duty underperforms on PS5 in the next few years? Let us know in the comments below.
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium, recent Sony news), and his secret third eye on the junk he really likes (Sonic Superstars, Final Fantasy XVI). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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