In response to ongoing queries by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which is currently investigating the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Mirosoft, both Sony and Microsoft have discussed the future of each company’s plans for the PlayStation and Xbox – and when to expect the next console generation. According to Microsoft, neither party is expecting a new console until at least 2028.
The CMA had previously expressed concerns about the potential for an unfair advantage to Microsoft, should the company choose to make blockbuster titles like Call of Duty exclusive to next-gen Xbox consoles.
‘PlayStation currently has a larger share of the console gaming market than Xbox, but the CMA considers that Call of Duty is sufficiently important that losing access to it (or losing access on competitive terms) could significantly impact Sony’s revenues and user base,’ the CMA claimed.
‘This impact is likely to be felt especially at the launch of the next generation of consoles, where gamers make fresh decisions about which console to buy. The CMA believes that the Merger could, therefore, significantly weaken Microsoft’s closest rival, to the detriment of overall competition in console gaming.’
In recently published documents, surfaced by VGC, Microsoft has refuted portions of these claims, and noted the large gap between console generations means the impact of this decision will not be felt for quite some time – as the next generation of consoles is still several years away.
‘The Parties do not dispute that some portion of gamers are likely to re-assess their console ownership at the start of a new generation. But they also note that this is an event that only occurs approximately every eight years,’ the company wrote.
‘Indeed the next new generation of consoles are not expected to be released before the fall of 2028 at the very earliest. The ongoing global shortage of semiconductors and supply chain disruptions have limited the supply of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S … If Sony were indeed worried about a hypothetical withholding of Activision content, it would have at the very least six years to prepare a competitive response in time for the launch of the next generation of console.’
In addition, Microsoft has previously claimed it would not look to make Call of Duty exclusive in the near future, given the potential sales loss that would result.
In response to this, Sony has claimed the proposed 2028 date for the next generation of consoles would arrive outside the current Activision agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation until 2027 – which would open up anti-competitive potential.
‘Microsoft has offered to continue making Activision’s games available on PlayStation only until 2027 … By the time SIE launched the next generation of its PlayStation console … it would have lost access to Call of Duty and other Activision titles, making it extremely vulnerable to consumer switching and subsequent degradation in its competitiveness,’ the company said.
While it redacted the exact date it plans to launch its next-generation console – likely the PlayStation 6 – the timelines seem to indicate it will arrive alongside Microsoft’s planned 2028 console. Hopefully, we’ll all have managed to nab the current generation of consoles by then.
As the UK Competition and Markets Authority investigation continues, expect to see more reveals and tidbits about the future plans of both companies. In the meantime, we can all look forward to the next generation of consoles arriving around that 2028 period.