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Microsoft and Nintendo enter into historic Call of Duty agreement

A historic long-term legal agreement between Nintendo and Microsoft has been struck to bring Call of Duty back to Nintendo consoles

Microsoft’s Vice Chair and President Brad Smith said a “binding 10-year legal agreement” was announced between Microsoft and Nintendo, promising to bring the Call of Duty franchise to Nintendo Switch players. 

According to Microsoft’s announcement, Call of Duty will be brought to Nintendo players “the same day as Xbox, with full feature and content parity – so they can experience Call of Duty just as Xbox and PlayStation gamers enjoy [the series]. We are committed to providing long-term equal access to Call of Duty to other gaming platforms.” 

This has huge ramifications for the gaming industry as a whole, as well as Nintendo Switch owners. There's not been a Call of Duty game on a Nintendo console since Call of Duty: Ghosts back in 2013. The return of the world-renowned FPS series to Nintendo platforms comes as something of a surprise, but not an unwelcome one.    

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Trust issues

Ghost from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

This announcement comes in the shadow of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) impending lawsuit against Microsoft caused by the latter’s ongoing efforts to buy Activision Blizzard – the makers of Call of Duty. The FTC has argued that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard would create a monopoly within the gaming industry and breach US anti-trust laws. 

It’s no coincidence that Brad Smith’s announcement ends by stating that “[Microsoft] are committed to providing long-term equal access to Call of Duty to other gaming platforms, bringing more choice to more players and more competition to the gaming market.” It’s clear that the gaming giant is attempting to counter the idea that they’re cultivating a monopoly within the industry. 

It remains to be seen whether or not this move will be enough to satisfy the FTC. However, what is clear is that this deal has significant ramifications for consumers. 

Though the announcement only mentions Call of Duty by name, the Tweet mentions a “commitment to bring Xbox games and Activision titles like Call of Duty to more players on more platforms” – that’s titles plural. Though we don’t know the exact scope and ambition of this commitment, it’s exciting to think that more Activision titles might be making the rounds on Nintendo Switch. 

The implications of the deal are as yet unknown but could shape the industry landscape in a big way. In the short term, we are forced to wonder what Call of Duty on the Nintendo Switch would even look like. Will it be limited to a Call of Duty Warzone port, or will more technically intensive titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 also find themselves on Switch in some capacity? Though it’s too early to say for certain what exactly the promised 10 years of cooperation will bring, it is my hope that it will lead to more choice and agency for consumers. One thing’s for certain, though: these are interesting times. 

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