A report from the UK government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded that the Nintendo Switch is “technically incapable” of running Call of Duty.
The CMA claimed that the Nintendo Switch cannot run Call of Duty “with a comparable quality of gameplay to Xbox or PlayStation” in a recent report (opens in new tab) aiming to assess the ramifications of Microsoft’s anticipated acquisition of Activision Blizzard, as well as the shelf life of the recent historic deal between Microsoft and Nintendo, with the former promising to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo consoles.
The CMA is a UK government agency that seeks to promote competitive markets in a manner analogous to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. Their analysis of Call of Duty’s viability on Nintendo hardware is a result of the recent legal settlement between Microsoft and Nintendo who undertakes to bring “[ing] Call of Duty for Nintendo players – on the same day as Xbox, with full functionality and content parity.”
This deal is an important part of Microsoft’s effort to address concerns from the FTC that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard would violate United States antitrust laws by preventing Nintendo and PlayStation from competing in the video game market by to refuse the wildly popular Call of Duty franchise.
While this deal is certainly a step towards building a business in the upcoming FTC lawsuit, the CMS’s findings suggest that it’s simply impossible from a hardware standpoint to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo consoles. Of course the release of a more powerful Nintendo Switch 2 this could change, but as it stands, Nintendo simply doesn’t seem to have the hardware to take advantage of its deal with Microsoft. After all, “full functionality and content parity” is the goal and without adequate hardware it seems unlikely Nintendo will be able to provide either.
The diagnosis of the CMA of the Nintendo switchMicrosoft’s hardware limitations put a damper on Microsoft’s efforts to reassure the FTC that its acquisition of Activision Blizzard does not violate antitrust laws.
In its report, the CMA claims that Call of Duty is “important to the competitive offering of [Xbox and PlayStation].” It continues by claiming that: “Microsoft would find it commercially beneficial to make [Call of Duty] exclusive to Xbox or available on Xbox at significantly better terms than on PlayStation. We preliminarily determined that this would substantially reduce competition in game consoles to the detriment of gamers… which could result in higher prices, reduced reach, lower quality, poorer service and/or reduced innovation.”
The FTC’s lawsuit is based on a similar set of concerns. Should Microsoft not address these concerns in court, the acquisition of Activision Blizzard will likely be blocked; hit the company hard. This is most likely why Microsoft contacted Nintendo to sign their Call of Duty agreement. Failure to comply with this agreement would undermine Microsoft’s efforts in the lawsuit and potentially send the company into troubled waters.
All eyes are on Microsoft and Nintendo as we wait to see what steps, if any, both companies will take to preserve their Call of Duty deal.