Remember Battle.net exclusivity for Call of Duty? Microsoft has declared it as “a resounding failure” in a recent filing following the hearing for the company’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
In a post-trial legal document, Micorosft lawyers argue that Battle.net exclusivity was terminated because it wasn't performing like Activision Blizzard had hoped.
The document continues that, after making the game available on Steam, “Activision decided to take the game off of Steam and make it exclusively available on Battle.net—largely in an effort to attract users to, and grow, Activision's own platform”
Between 2019 and 2021, the Call of Duty series was only made available through Battle.net. This was a mistake, according to Microsoft’s lawyers, who comment on how, during that period, “Battle.net's monthly active users ('MAUs') remained relatively flat [...], while Steam users grew steadily from 2019 to 2021".
Still, considering the years involved and how the pandemic hit during 2020, it is strange that Battle.net hurt the Call of Duty fanbase. Activision reported some really good numbers for 2020, citing 100 million monthly active users. Perhaps that “resounding failure” has more to do with Blizzard, rather than the platform that Call of Duty was available on.
In the court document, Microsoft’s lawyers also mention a possible Switch port of Call of Duty. This is just to prove their point that a platform can succeed despite not having any of the titles from the series available. Microsoft also argues that it has no plans of ever making CoD an Xbox exclusive, actually wanting to keep it multiplatform.
It is clear that Microsoft is pulling no punches in their aggressive tactics to prove they have the right strategy for many of the Activision Blizzard biggest titles. Considering how Modern Warfare 2 regularly features among Steam's top 10 bestsellers (and most played games on the platform), we can definitely argue that this tactic might indeed be successful in the long term.