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Sony’s Jim Ryan says Microsoft’s Call of Duty promise was ‘inadequate on many levels’

Sony PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has revealed that Microsoft offered to keep Call of Duty available on PlayStation for three years beyond its current Activision deal. “After almost 20 years of Call of Duty on PlayStation, their proposal was inadequate on many levels and failed to take account of the impact on our gamers,” Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz

Last week, the UK’s competition authority said it was concerned that Microsoft’s $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition could “harm rivals” by shutting them out of popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Xbox chief Phil Spencer essentially responded by saying the company made a deal with Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for “several more years” in an offer “that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements.”

However, Sony is apparently concerned about the arrangement. “I hadn’t intended to comment on what I understood to be a private business discussion, but I feel the need to set the record straight because Phil Spencer brought this into the public forum,” Ryan said. “Microsoft has only offered for Call of Duty to remain on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony ends. We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality Call of Duty experience, and Microsoft’s proposal undermines this principle.”

Activision’s current deal with Sony is reported to cover the next three Call of Duty releases, including Modern Warfare II set to arrive on October 28th. Last month, Microsoft made an interesting argument about monopoly concerns around the Activision acquisition, saying that the company it wants to pay $68.7 billion to acquire makes no “must have” games. Sony, meanwhile, called Call of Duty an “essential” triple-A game “that has no rival.” As analyst Daniel Ahmad pointed out, Sony was Activision Blizzard’s biggest customer in 2020, while Microsoft was the fourth largest behind Google and Apple.

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Game

PlayStation head Jim Ryan criticizes Activision Blizzard response to sexual harassment scandal

It turns out Blizzard employees weren’t the only ones to express frustration with their company and CEO Bobby Kotick after The Wall Street Journal published an explosive report on the ongoing sexual harassment scandal at the publisher. In an email obtained by Bloomberg, Sony Interactive CEO Jim Ryan critiqued Activision’s response to the article. Ryan linked Sony employees to the report, and said he was “disheartened and frankly stunned to read” The Journal’s findings.

“We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article,” Ryan says in the message. “We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”

As the company that makes the PlayStation 4 and PS5, Sony is one of Activision’s most important partners. Their close relationship is highlighted by the fact Sony has first dibs on some Call of Duty content. The fact Ryan’s email leaked shouldn’t come as a surprise given that it was an all-hands message.

Broadly, The Wall Street Journal report claims Kotick was not only aware of many of the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment at the company, but that he may have also intervened to protect some of its worst offenders, and that he mistreated women himself. In a statement to Engadget, a spokesperson for the publisher said the article presents a “misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO.” Shortly after it started circulating widely on social media, Blizzard employees announced they would stage a walkout. Hours later, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors issued a statement expressing its continued support of Kotick’s leadership. 

According to a report published by Game Developer, Activision Blizzard also defended Kotick during an all-hands meeting the company hosted after The Wall Street Journal published its report. When asked if its new zero-tolerance policy would apply to the executive, the company told employees it did not “have evidence” of the claims against Kotick due to the fact they relate to an incident that happened a decade ago.  

Update 3:49PM ET: Added information from Game Developer.   

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Game

PlayStation boss Jim Ryan doubles down on exclusives for PS5

Here at the beginning of a new console generation, we find ourselves in an interesting position where all three major console manufacturers are sort of doing their own thing. Microsoft is putting a big focus on services like Xbox Game Pass and cloud streaming, while Nintendo is taking a hybrid approach to console gaming with the Switch. Sony, it seems, is planning to stick with what’s worked for it in previous generations: Exclusives.

Speaking to Nikkei in a recent interview (as translated by Gematsu’s Salromano on Resetera), Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan indicated that Sony is committed to delivering more exclusives for the PS5 than the PlayStation consoles that came before it. In fact, Ryan seems to suggest that this focus on exclusives is part of how Sony plans to answer Microsoft’s buying spree that saw it pay a whopping $7.5 billion for Bethesda and its subsidiaries.

“We have been quietly, but steadily investing in high-quality games for PlayStation,” Ryan said. “And we will make sure the PlayStation 5 generation has more exclusive software than ever before. We have engaged in mergers and acquisitions several times in the past, such as with Insomniac Games. We will not rule out that option in the future.”

So, if you’re looking to get a PlayStation 5 because you enjoyed all of the exclusive games on the PlayStation 4, according to Jim Ryan you won’t be disappointed in what you ultimately get. In that interview, Ryan also indicated that he “would like strengthen” Sony’s partnerships with Japanese developers “and release content for PlayStation 5 suited to the Japanese market.” He also spoke on the supply issues the PlayStation 5 is facing, noting that the “current supply of PlayStation 5 in Japan is comparable to PlayStation 4 in the same period following its launch.”

None of this really comes as a huge shock because many of us probably expected Sony to double down on exclusives for the PS5 after exclusives made the PlayStation 4 an attractive platform, but it is good to have that confirmation that exclusives are a major focus for Sony in the new generation. We’ve got a couple of those exclusives coming up, with Returnal slated to land on April 30th and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart landing on June 11th.

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Tech News

Ryan Reynolds shares a funny long-lost letter he wrote to a fan in 2016

The first Deadpool movie starring Ryan Reynolds was released in February 2016, a full five years ago. A month later, a fan named Hunter wrote Reynolds a letter addressed to ‘Mr. Deadpool’ asking if he had any advice on ‘being more badass like you.’ Reynolds wrote a response, but it was lost…until now.

Reynolds discovered the lost letter — which apparently was never mailed back to Hunter — and recently shared it on his Twitter account. The actor notes that the letter, ‘Holds up. Mostly.’ What does that mean? It seems a few things have changed in the past five years, resulting in some humorous quotes.

In the letter, Reynolds tells Hunter to ‘commit to one thing. For me, it’s acting. No messing around with random business ventures like other celebs.’ Why’s that funny? Reynolds later went on to purchase an ownership stake in Mint Mobile, a prepaid wireless carrier.

Also amusing is Reynold’s note about his ‘tiny investment,’ noting that, ‘other than that, acting and I are like Tom Brady and New England: together forever.’ Of course, Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 2020 after nearly two decades with the Patriots, leading them to Super Bowl victory a few weeks ago.

There’s also mention of staying connected with the fan on Vine, which later shut down and has been replaced with the likes of Snapchat and TikTok. That aside, Reynolds is correct — the letter mostly holds up, including a mention of the upcoming movie Deadpool 3 that would arrive in 2020 (it’s now expected to start shooting in 2022).

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