Call of Duty nearly stopped being released for Xbox years ago.
Over the past year or two, Xbox has dominated discussion regarding ownership of Call of Duty by PC gaming platform Xbox and what that would entail for both franchise and games industry in general.
Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard has drawn widespread scrutiny by regulators for several months now; recently Microsoft engaged in a court battle against the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in an effort to justify why this buyout should go forward and is in dispute over fairness issues with regards to Call of Duty series on Xbox’s new-gen consoles in general. TweakTown reports Xbox Corporate Vice President Sarah Bond disclosed during this debate that Call of Duty may have almost been prevented from even coming out at all!
Bond apparently revealed in her testimony that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick refused to bring Call of Duty over to Xbox Series X/S until Xbox agreed on a certain revenue split deal; generally speaking, this means publishers such as Activision would take 70% cut of sales while platform holders (Xbox in this instance) receive the remaining 30% share.
“It was clear that Call of Duty would debut first on PS5, which wouldn’t have been appropriate given Xbox’s launch at around the same time,” Bond noted (via TweakTown). “It became evident if we did not increase beyond standard [revenue] shares that Call of Duty wouldn’t appear there at launch time.”
Bond asserted that until Xbox agreed on a deal, Call of Duty developers refused to use Series X/S development kits; had Xbox not come through quickly with an agreement, no games from that franchise would have been ready in time for launch on new-gen consoles.
Xbox must have accepted some kind of revenue split agreement in the end; it remains unknown exactly which percentages have been agreed upon. Reportedly, FTC officials mentioned an 80-20 split during proceedings but this might not reflect reality.