Microsoft Inks Another Call Of Duty Deal After Committing To NVIDIA And Nintendo
Microsoft is looking increasingly desperate to lock down Activision Blizzard in the face of increasing regulatory scrutiny. Microsoft is on its best behavior, licensing its game properties like there's no tomorrow, and that's a good thing for gamers. After inking long-term content deals with Nintendo and NVIDIA, Microsoft has partnered with another, lesser-known cloud gaming platform. In the coming weeks, Microsoft's PC games will begin appearing on Boosteroid, a Ukrainian cloud gaming service that recently expanded its footprint to include the US.
Sony's PlayStation 5 is outselling the Xbox Series X/S by about a third, making this the second generation in a row that Sony has dominated. Microsoft correctly identified its lack of in-house blockbuster franchises as a weakness in its struggle to keep up with Sony, and one solution is to buy content. Microsoft has already acquired ZeniMax (Bethesda, id Software), and now it's going after Activision Blizzard, which controls franchises like Diablo, Overwatch, and (most vitally) Call of Duty.
Sony and other Microsoft competitors have objected to Microsoft owning Call of Duty, but the company has sought to assuage fears by signing long-term deals guaranteeing access to CoD. It has already promised Nintendo will get Call of Duty for 10 years, and Xbox-branded PC games will be available on NVIDIA's GeForce Now streaming service soon. A similar deal will bring Microsoft content to Boosteroid, and that will include CoD if Microsoft closes the deal.
Boosteroid's pitch is more akin to GeForce Now than it is to Xbox Cloud Gaming, but soon it will have some of the same content thanks to Microsoft. The service connects to your existing game libraries on Steam, Epic, and other services to make your games available in the cloud. There are no session time limits, but you do have to pay a subscription fee (about $10 if paid monthly) to use the service. NVIDIA, by comparison, has a limited free tier. After launching in Europe, Boosteroid has added servers in several US states. Plus, it supports installing a few dozen unsupported games like Grand Theft Auto 5, Hogwarts Legacy, and Marvel's Spider-Man on its remote gaming rigs. NVIDIA used to support similar functionality, but publishers protested, and now it only streams approved games. Boosteroid works on desktop, Android smartphones, and Android TV.
Microsoft has hinted that more deals of this nature will be revealed in the coming weeks. It's unclear if this will get regulators on Microsoft's side, but it will be able to point to the deals as evidence that it isn't hoarding content. UK and EU regulators are expected to decide whether to oppose the deal in late April. The US Federal Trade Commission has already opted to file a lawsuit against Microsoft to block the $68.7 billion acquisition.