Microsoft believes the next generation of gaming consoles should be out in 2028, court documents in the ingoing FTC trial over the Xbox parent’s attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard revealed. The documents, as reviewed by IGN, detailed that the next Xbox and PlayStation 6 will potentially be out eight years after the current ones launched in 2020. The timeline coincides with Sony’s statement from 2022, which alluded that the next console generation won’t be here until 2027. The dates are important, considering Microsoft is trying to convince the court that it is willing to commit to making Activision’s biggest franchise Call of Duty available in parity on PlayStation consoles for a 10-year duration.
“This term would, in any case, go beyond the expected starting period of the next generation of consoles (in 2028),” Microsoft said in the documents (via IGN). “Thus, Call of Duty will be published on successor PlayStation consoles should one be released during the term of the agreement. The agreement also would ensure that Call of Duty console games are offered on PlayStation at parity with Xbox.” This contradicts Sony’s claim from November, last year, where it claimed that Microsoft only plans to offer Activision games on PlayStation until 2027. As it happens, team green had sent a draft of the 10-year agreement to Sony, but the latter has refused to respond to that offer. That duration would also exceed the 2028 release window, allowing Call of duty to flourish on Sony’s next-gen consoles. The US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has requested to temporarily block Microsoft and Activision Blizzard from closing their $69 billion (about Rs. 5,65,921 crore) deal until the agency’s in-house court decides whether the deal hurts competition in the video game industry.
Additionally, Microsoft has now admitted that it has been losing the ‘console wars’ since 2001 i.e., since the first generation of Xbox launched. For the uninitiated, ‘console wars’ refers to the tussle between the biggest video game console manufacturers — PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo — for market domination, in an attempt to outsell one another. “Xbox has lost the console wars, and its rivals are positioned to continue to dominate, including by leveraging exclusive content,” Microsoft said in the documents. “Xbox’s console has consistently ranked third (of three) behind PlayStation and Nintendo in sales.” As per VGChartz, the Xbox Series S/X consoles have sold 21.3 million units since launch, whereas the PS5 and Nintendo Switch have sold about 36 million units in that period— as of April 2023. Nintendo takes the lead by a slight margin though, with 36.2 million units sold.
A Kotaku report notes that Microsoft has now given up competing in the current console wars and will instead focus on delivering quality software. This could be through games or even its subscription service Xbox Game Pass, which the company continues pushing every chance it gets. The document further goes on to stress that Xbox does not generate a profit through console sales, selling the systems at a loss in the hopes that it will make up for lost revenue through ‘sales of games and accessories.’ The company recently hiked the prices of its flagship Xbox Series X console in certain regions, and Game Pass subscription around the world.
In related news, the court hearing also revealed that Bethesda’s Indiana Jones game, which was originally planned as a multi-platform release, would now be exclusive to Xbox and PC only. The project was announced in 2021, merely months after Microsoft acquired parent company ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion (about Rs. 61,532 crore). During the court hearing, Bethesda’s head of publishing Pete Hines revealed that ZeniMax’s original agreement with Disney would have put the Indiana Jones game on multiple consoles. However, when Microsoft acquired the former, Disney had “questions” regarding console exclusivity. Minor changes were then made to the contract, making Indiana Jones an Xbox exclusive. Even Arkane’s Redfall was originally set to release on PS5 as well, but plans for the same were scrapped following the Bethesda acquisition.