In what proved to be a lively first day of testimony in Xbox’s Activision Blizzard trial, Xbox vice president Sarah Bond dropped another bombshell, claiming that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick demanded a higher revenue share to put Call of Duty on Microsoft platforms.
According to Bond, Kodick made it clear, “He doesn’t want to put Call of Duty on Xbox if we don’t go beyond fixed revenue share.”
In the end, Bond said, Xbox decided to accommodate Activision’s demands for Blizzard.
“Time was short. We had players and we wanted to meet their expectations, so we ultimately decided it was the best thing for business.”
Bond’s comments were in response to questions from a Microsoft consultant, in which he said Call of Duty isn’t a must-have game. However, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pointed out in its cross-examination, his views were contradicted in part by Xbox’s decision to overpay Activision Blizzard to keep Call of Duty on their platforms. Bond characterized the negotiations as “lively”.
‘Very Clear Limits’
In addition to revenue sharing, Bond also talked about Call of Duty’s marketing deals, which resulted in “very clear limits” on what Xbox could say about the series.
“A year ago we wanted to show Call of Duty Vanguard launching on Xbox, and we said we couldn’t say that on YouTube or any other place where customers who weren’t our own customers could watch it. For a time,” Bond said.
According to Bond, the Xbox website was doing well, as were Xbox’s own Twitter accounts.
“But when we shoot a showcase that people can watch live on YouTube and other places… Ultimately, we wanted to put a slate that said, ‘All games are coming next year.’ We can’t say Call of Duty is coming next year,” he said. Bond said.
Asked if there were other games with similar marketing exclusivity, Bond pointed to Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy, which was released earlier this year.
Microsoft Gets Activision Blizzard: The Story So Far
Bond’s testimony followed testimony from Xbox Studios president Matt Booty and Bethesda’s global publishing head Pete Hines, who spoke on topics ranging from the possibility of Indiana Jones on PS5 to “Xbox losing the console wars.” It’s all part of a week-long trial that will determine whether Activision’s acquisition of Blizzard will be subject to a preliminary injunction, potentially scuttling the deal entirely.
We’re in court and covering everything that happens, so keep an eye on IGN as Xbox’s battle with the FTC continues.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Valentine
Kate Bailey is IGN’s news director and co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Got a tip? DM her at @the_katbot.