UPDATE 15/3/23: Another day, another announcement of an agreement by Microsoft of a third-party company in support of its $68.7bn Activision Blizzard deal.
Today, it’s the turn of Ubitus, a cloud streaming company which offers a catalogue of games in some countries, and whose servers power a number of cloud games for Nintendo Switch elsewhere. Xbox boss Phil Spencer announced today that Microsoft had reached a 10-year deal with Ubitus to “a 10-year partnership to “stream Xbox PC Games as well as Activision Blizzard titles after the acquisition closes”.
Microsoft has previously trumpeted agreements with Nvidia GeForce Now and Nintendo over access to Call of Duty, if and when its deal is approved by regulators. Today brings yet another announcement which seems designed to sway regulatory approval – but also, perhaps, a clue to how Call of Duty might appear on Nintendo hardware.
“Few interesting aspects to this deal, not least where Microsoft games will end up,” games industry analyst Piers Harding-Rolls wrote on Twitter in reaction to Microsoft’s announcement. “Could this help with bringing Call of Duty etc. to Switch/Switch 2?”
ORIGINAL STORY 14/3/23:
Xbox has today announced another 10-year agreement, this time with Ukranian cloud gaming platform Boosteroid, as Microsoft continues to try and shore up support for its $68.7bn Activision Blizzard deal.
Boosteroid’s four million users will soon be able to access Xbox PC games via their streaming subscription, with Activision Blizzard PC games to also become available when (or rather, if) Microsoft’s buyout takes place.
It’s a very similar deal to the one Microsoft previously announced with Nvidia to bring Xbox PC games its GeForce Now streaming service.
Additionally, Microsoft also has a 10-year deal waiting in the wings to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platform(s) – again, if the buyout happens.
Today’s announcement adds a further feather to Microsoft’s cap as it seeks to reassure regulators that it paying $68.7bn for Activision Blizzard would not result in more limited access to blockbusters such as Call of Duty.
“We believe in the power of games to bring people together. That’s why Xbox is committed to give everyone more ways to play their favorite games, across devices,” Xbox boss Phil Spencer said today. “Bringing Xbox PC games to Boosteroid members, including Activision Blizzard titles such as Call of Duty once the deal closes, is yet another step in realising that vision.”
The announcement also shines a spotlight on a company based in Kyiv and Kharkiv in Ukraine, cities which have hit the headlines over the past year following Russia’s invasion. Two of its offices in Kharkiv have been hit by Russian missile attacks.
“Boosteroid shares Microsoft’s vision of bringing games to as many people, places and platforms as possible,” its boss Ivan Shvaichenko said. “It has long been our goal to provide gamers with an opportunity to enjoy their favorite titles on any device close at hand. Today’s announcement is yet another step in this direction. Also, with our development team based in Ukraine, we appreciate Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to Ukraine, and we will be working together on an initiative supporting our local game development community to invest further in the economic recovery of the country.”
Microsoft has contributed a sizable amount to Ukraine since Russia invaded, the company’s president Brad Smith continued.
“This partnership builds on the $430m in technology and financial assistance we have provided Ukraine since Russia’s unlawful invasion, and it exemplifies the steps we will continue to take to support Ukraine’s 160,000 software developers,” Smith said.
“It also adds to our recent agreements with Nintendo and Nvidia, making even more clear to regulators that our acquisition of Activision Blizzard will make Call of Duty available on far more devices than before.”
Writing on Twitter today, games industry analyst Piers Harding-Rolls said Microsoft’s Boosteroid announcement was “comparable (in strategy) to the GeForce Now deal and not directly competitive with Game Pass” making for “synergies”.
Eurogamer was in attendance in Brussels last month when Smith, fresh from talks aimed at convincing EU regulators, waved a copy of the 10-year deal Microsoft still hopes Sony will sign to grant PlayStation equal access to Call of Duty.
Since then, reports have suggested the EU’s European Commission will ultimately look favourably on the deal – though issues remain with both the US Federal Trade Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.