So now, it looks like Microsoft is attempting to downplay the importance of the series – and the impact that it has on the Xbox ecosystem at large.
"Call of Duty gamers are neither ‘special’ nor ‘unique’ in terms of either their spending or user engagement as compared to gamers that favor other popular franchises," says Microsoft in newly-published documents that have been made public by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.
Why is Microsoft making that kind-of comment? Because it's trying to persuade the Competition and Markets Authority that its ownership of the series would not be detrimental to the overall health of the video game market in the UK, and that PlayStation would be at a disadvantage by not having CoD titles to attract new users to its ecosystem.
"Call of Duty does not drive platform adoption," the document continues. "Xbox data shows that between 2016 and 2022, [XX]% of new Xbox gamers never played or purchased Call ofDuty content and only [XX]% of gamers played Call of Duty as their first game on their new Xbox console. These numbers are inconsistent with the idea that Call of Duty drives platform adoption." We have inserted the XX's to denote content that has been redacted by the CMA.
"Figure 12 shows [XX] is the game that most gamers play first after purchasing an Xbox console in the period 2016-2022 [XX] and numerous others are similarly often played first."
So, the TL;DR? Call of Duty gamers are neither special nor unique in how they engage with Xbox games, or in terms of how they spend money.
Previously, Sony has hit out at the "inadequate" Call of Duty offer Xbox made, wherein Xbox reportedly "only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends." That comment comes from the top at Sony, via PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan.
It's clear that Sony wants to keep the series on its platforms, and that it values the appeal of Call of Duty in terms of new player acquisition and established player retention. Will this be resolved peacefully, and with a minimum of mess? It doesn't look like it – especially when Microsoft is even willing to sell its own games short to make a point.