One of the key factors holding up the completion of the acquisition of Activision Blizzard
has been Sony
's concern that exclusive use of Microsoft's cloud gaming service would create an unfair environment for PlayStation
players when it came to games like Call of Duty
Overnght, however, Microsoft and Ubisoft
revealed a partnership to have key Activision Blizzard titles streaming through Ubisoft's own cloud and streaming services, effectively adding a neutral party to balance Sony's concerns around fairness.
Here's more from Ubisoft in an official capacity:
Ubisoft [has] announced a transaction giving Ubisoft the cloud streaming rights for Call of Duty and all other Activision Blizzard titles releasing over the next 15 years once Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is completed. This will enable Ubisoft to bring cloud streaming access of Activision Blizzard games to more players all around the world. These rights will exist in perpetuity.
These rights will further strengthen Ubisoft’s content offering through its subscription service Ubisoft+, as well as allowing Ubisoft to license streaming access of the Activision Blizzard catalog of games, including future releases, to cloud gaming companies, service providers, and console makers. This will help expand access for players across all streaming services.
Ubisoft’s expertise in developing online services and distribution along with its relationships with streaming providers will continue to provide more choice for players to engage in the games they love from both Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard. Ubisoft+ will be able to further expand its growing library of titles enabling players the ability to play across multiple platforms including PC, Xbox consoles and Amazon Luna with a single subscription to Ubisoft+ Multi Access, and on the PlayStation platform with Ubisoft+ Classics.
“We’re dedicated to delivering amazing experiences to our players wherever they choose to play,” said Chris Early Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, Ubisoft. “Over the past 15 years we’ve built and honed our online services and distribution ecosystem into one of the most complete in the industry. Today’s deal will give players even more opportunities to access and enjoy some of the biggest brands in gaming.”
The arrangement will give Ubisoft exclusive worldwide rights to stream the Activision Blizzard games, except for non-exclusive rights to stream in the European Economic Area, for all existing and current Activision Blizzard games as well as those to be released over the next 15 years once Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is completed.
This is a fairly clever workaround, though it could also be seen as a bit ot a Trojan Horse with Microsoft potentially eyeing off Ubisoft from an acquisition sense, though your tinfoil hat for that to eventuate would need to be on firmly, but in this business, especially in this day and age, never say never.