Microsoft Is Fine Losing $700 Million on Starfield and Other Titles Because of Exclusivity

Starfield 22 photos
Photo: Bethesda
Microsoft is so close to closing the Activision Blizzard King deal that it could be over by the time I finish writing this article. It's no joke, either. The "powers that be" gave Microsoft the green light (pun intended) to go ahead with the titanic $69 billion acquisition. Appeals were made, sure, but the ink wasn't even dry, and they got shut down. Although the entire debacle is finally over, that doesn't mean we're done with the juicy info.
One of the most heated debates inside the courtroom between the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), Microsoft, and Sony was about the potential removal of Call of Duty from the PlayStation ecosystem after the acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.

Long story short, Sony, the FTC, and UK's regulatory body CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) were worried that if CoD remained only on Xbox systems, it would be unhealthy for the market and, ultimately, for consumers.

Another fascinating fact from the trial was that Sony can make as much as $1.5 billion a year from Call of Duty from simply existing on PlayStation and the PS digital store. It's plain to see why Sony tried so hard to fight the acquisition.

According to other officially revealed documents, Call of Duty has just one more iteration from the Activision-PlayStation contract, so it's gone after the supposed Modern Warfare 3 hits in 2023.

The FTC's fear of anti-competitive practices by Microsoft arose from the previous Starfield exclusivity. After they bought Zenimax, Bethesda announced Starfield as an Xbox-exclusive title that will also come to PC.

In other words, the FTC had enough reasons from the Starfield case and other Bethesda titles to think that once the Activision Blizzard acquisition came through, Microsoft would take future games like next year's CoD off PlayStation.

Xbox CFO Tim Stuard acknowledged that during an internal financial analysis, after Microsoft bought Bethesda in 2020, titles like Starfield and the upcoming Indiana Jones title would sell more than 10 million copies on PlayStation. Given the games' extremely high profile, selling five million units per game in a short period isn't at all out of the realm of possibility.

Optimally, ten million copies at $70 each would make over $700 million. That's not counting special editions, DLC (downloadable content), and other secondary purchases like these. Starfield and Indy would go way beyond those numbers, given enough time, raking in even more money for Microsoft.

Common sense would dictate that having exclusivity and Game Pass apparently mean more to Microsoft than making their games available on PlayStation.

The leading theory is that in 5-10 years, Game Pass will be on almost every device possible, PlayStation included. The vision is to break away from hardware like consoles into a digital and streaming-only future.

Rumors have also surfaced saying Microsoft isn't done with buying studios and that in 2024, we'll see more big publishers under the Xbox flag. But for that, we'll have to wait and see.
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About the author: Codrin Spiridon
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Codrin just loves American classics, from the 1940s and ‘50s, all the way to the muscle cars of the '60s and '70s. In his perfect world, we'll still see Hudsons and Road Runners roaming the streets for years to come (even in EV form, if that's what it takes to keep the aesthetic alive).
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