When Sony fires live ammunition: “Battlefield is unable to compete with Call of Duty”

In a document submitted to the British competition authority, Sony wrote in black and white that Battlefield is, in its opinion, unable to compete with Call of Duty. Electronic Arts will appreciate.

Sony is currently mired in a huge battle whose objective is the following: to derail the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, in fear of seeing strong licenses escape. The Japanese firm uses the Call of Duty argument to justify its approach, while its American rival insists that war FPS will not disappear from the PlayStation ecosystem (at least not in the short and medium term). And Sony is obviously ready for anything, even if it means damaging the image of other players in the market… who hadn’t asked for anything.

In a document submitted to the British competition authority (CMA, for Competition and Markets Authority), identified by The Verge November 24, Sony openly attacks Electronic Arts. The publisher is behind the Battlefield saga, considered by many to be the rival of Call of Duty. Except that in the eyes of Sony, Electronic Arts is unable to compete with Activision. A stray bullet which the interested party would have done well, collateral victim of a war between two giants.

Battlefield 2042 // Source: Electronic Arts
Battlefield 2042 // Source: Electronic Arts

EA, collateral victim of the war between Sony and Microsoft

Here is what can be read in the document sent to the entity in charge of looking into the transaction: Call of Duty has no equal. The Call of Duty brand is too established for any company to compete, no matter how strong. It’s been the best-selling game nearly every year for the past decade, and in the FPS genre, it’s the overwhelmingly best-selling game. Other publishers have neither the resources nor the expertise to achieve this success. To give you a concrete example, Electronic Arts — one of the biggest publishers after Activision — has tried for years to develop a Call of Duty rival with the Battlefield saga. Despite the similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield, and despite EA’s storied history of successful licensing (FIFA, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Star Wars: Battlefront), Battlefield can’t compete. As of August 2021, over 400 million Call of Duty games have been sold, compared to 88.7 for Battlefield. »

Sony takes absolutely no tweezers, and there is no doubt that Electronic Arts must not have appreciated this statement. The subtext is even staggering: Sony seeks to make it clear that Call of Duty is strictly irreplaceable and, above all, that Battlefield will not be able to satisfy its players if they were to lose Call of Duty. It’s really an insult to the legacy of Battlefield, which has certainly experienced fiascos (example: the launch of Battlefield 2042), but has been around since 2002.

As a bonus, Sony is showing a bit of bad faith, in terms of figures. Yes, Call of Duty crushes everything in terms of sales. But Battlefield can hardly rise to its height with far fewer episodes to its credit (9 against… 19 for Call of Duty, excluding spin-off). In December 2011Peter Moore, then COO of Electronic Arts, was nevertheless pleased to observe that Battlefield 3 had stolen some market share from Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

In short, Sony is wrong to reduce the aura of Battlefield and disrespect Electronic Arts – which remains one of its historical partners. And even if, factually, Call of Duty is superior to Battlefield (it can be discussed according to tastes, episodes…), a manufacturer with a duty of exemplarity cannot afford to affirm it.

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