Microsoft filing details thoughts on cloud gaming and Call of Duty deal


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After years of touting cloud gaming, Microsoft presented a much less optimistic view of the fledgling technology this week. The company called cloud gaming “immature” and “unproven” in a dense and information-rich filing as part of its latest effort to push through a $68.7 billion deal to acquire the maker of Activision Blizzard video games, pending regulatory approval.

“Today, cloud gaming is in its infancy and untested as a consumer proposition,” Microsoft wrote in a response Tuesday to the UK Competition and Trade Authority. markets (CMA), adding that she does not expect the situation to improve in the next few years. The company does not foresee cloud gaming replacing consoles or PCs, and called it a “new and immature technology”.

The CMA wrote on September 1 that it would launch a full investigation into whether Microsoft buying Activision could harm competition in the UK market. The regulator argued Microsoft could stifle rivals by removing Call of Duty from PlayStation or adding Activision’s games to its cloud. gambling service. The deal is under scrutiny from several international regulators and the US Federal Trade Commission.

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Microsoft has repeatedly touted cloud gaming as a way to enjoy its games and supplement console sales that lag behind Sony’s. At the flagship industry show E3 in 2019, one of the industry’s last in-person conferences until events resume in 2022 – Microsoft showcased its cloud gaming service Project xCloud in eye-catching demos for gamers, saying the service can play all 3,500 games in the Xbox catalog and an additional 1,900 games still in development.

“We look forward to seeing how this space continues to grow and we look forward to supporting development studios, our partners and other industry players investing in cloud gaming as it invites more people to experience games. “, said the vice president of Xbox Cloud Gaming. Catherine Gluckstein in an October 6 statement to the Washington Post.

Gluckstein’s comments came in response to questions about the state of the game following the shutdown of a competing cloud platform, Google’s Stadia. Google announced on September 29 that Stadia would shut down by January 2023.

Microsoft’s message in its CMA response on Tuesday was more tempered, arguing that customers will likely take a long time to move to cloud gaming and will likely stick to PC and console for most games. Despite the hype surrounding cloud gaming, Microsoft wrote that gamers don’t care whether their games are stored locally or in the cloud. Instead, the tech has to convince them about the game content and the actual tech specs, such as graphics and latency.

Even though the cloud gaming landscape has tightened with the shutdown of Stadia, brands like Logitech, Ubisoft, and Razer continue to optimistically promote their cloud gaming services.

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Microsoft’s filing also contained an assortment of other facts, some more recent than others, offering a rare insight into the notoriously low-key games industry.

Xbox has agreed not to bring Call of Duty to Game Pass “for a number of years” to honor Activision Blizzard’s ongoing deal with Sony giving PlayStation users early access, which ends in 2024. Microsoft revealed in the filing that it offered to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation until 2027, but Sony ultimately rejected that offer. Microsoft’s response to concerns over Call of Duty has been to continue to insist that it will not ax the lucrative PlayStation franchise, as Microsoft has repeatedly told gamers and regulators that it will lose money. money on the franchise if Call of Duty leaves Sony’s platform.

Microsoft also detailed in the filing its plans to create a mobile game store on all devices, which the company first announced in February. The mobile store would adapt the pre-existing Xbox Store that consumers already know on PC and console to the more portable platform to challenge Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Microsoft’s record is much more candid about the console wars than some of its blog posts and statements from executives over the years. He fully admits to the UK regulator that Sony and Nintendo have beaten the company in terms of the number of consoles sold and the number of monthly active users. Microsoft’s filing even contained Call of Duty reviews, noting how 2021’s installment “Call of Duty: Vanguard” was panned by critics upon release, and that the franchise may fail over time.

In its attempt to convince the UK regulator that the acquisition would not harm competition, Microsoft laid bare several of its shortcomings in the filing. The company has never matched Sony’s edge in game exclusives and console sales. He also said that Sony had blocked Xbox Game Pass on PlayStation. All told, the filing shows Microsoft arguing that it’s more like David than Goliath when it comes to gaming as it seeks regulatory approval.

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