Microsoft has signed a 10-year deal with Ubitus, a Japan-based cloud gaming “enabler” known for supporting games like The Forgotten City and Hitman 3 on Nintendo Switch ports.
Phil Spencer, chief executive of Microsoft’s game console arm Xbox, announced the new partnership via Twitter, explaining that the deal will allow Ubitus to stream Xbox PC Games and, later, Activision Blizzard’s once the acquisition closes. Spencer explained that the new deal would give “more choice” to players.
The Ubitus deal followed new partnerships that Microsoft announced in a recent press conference, a 10-year Call of Duty contract with Nintendo and a 10-year streaming contract with Nvidia GeForce Now.
The series of new deals are likely done to appease regulators who have tried to prevent the Microsoft-Activision deal, as noted by analysts. Competition regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), have raised concerns that the acquisition would give Xbox an unfair advantage in the cloud gaming sector.
— BondSarahBond🎮 (@BondSarah_Bond) March 15, 2023
By acquiring Activision, Microsoft will have control over the publisher’s titles, including the famous Call of Duty. Authorities and Microsoft’s competitors, such as Sony, said they were worried that Microsoft would make Activision’s titles exclusive to Xbox.
These new deals allow Microsoft to showcase its “pro-competitive” stance in the process of closing the $69 billion acquisition deal with Activision. Sources said the strategy might be successful as the European Union would approve the deal, even though regulators in other countries still opposed it.
Regarding the deal with Ubitus, it is currently unclear whether Call of Duty will be one of the games that the cloud service provider can stream later. However, that is likely the case as Microsoft president Brad Smith already promised that the company would announce more non-exclusivity Call of Duty deals in the coming weeks.
Ubitus expressed joy in the new partnership, calling it a “significant milestone” for the company.
“This collaboration enhances our library with high profile game IPs, it also expands our library size to over 1,000 titles, a significant milestone for Ubitus – keeping up our mission of bringing quality games to more platforms and players in more countries with our accessible game streaming solution,” Ubitus said.
We’re honored to establish a 10-year partnership with Microsoft for players to stream Xbox PC Games and Activision Blizzard titles pending the acquisition. This collaboration enhances our library with high profile game IPs, it also expands our library size to over 1,000 titles, https://t.co/hFOP8gZEBg
— Ubitus K.K. (@UbitusKK) March 15, 2023
Six studios agree to Microsoft-Activision deal
Competition regulators in the U.K. recently posted responses from six studios regarding the Microsoft-Activision deal, revealing that these studios supported the acquisition. Of six studios, only Scottish developer 4J Studios was named by the authorities.
4J co-founder and chairman Chris van der Kuyl said his studio was in a “unique position” of partnering not only with Microsoft but also with Swedish developer Mojang before it was acquired by the tech giant.
According to van der Kuyl, Microsoft respected all 4J-Mojang agreements, which had already existed before it entered the picture.
“During that period, which lasted several years, Microsoft has honored every element of the agreements that they inherited and also extended our relationship significantly to cover new formats, like Nintendo Switch, as well as many other content enhancements,” van der Kuyl said.
The statement was backed by a CEO from an anonymous indie developer who claimed to have worked with top publishers, including Microsoft, Activision and Sony. The CEO pointed out that another gaming giant, Tencent, already owned stakes in Activision and could move to acquire the publisher too, which would be no different from the Microsoft deal.
A different studio also argued that Microsoft was committed to making certain games available across all platforms, and the acquisition, therefore, would not “negatively impact consumers.”
Another company, which claimed to have released games for both Xbox and PlayStation, said the acquisition would instead stimulate competition in the console sector.
The unnamed company argued that Xbox is not as renowned as PlayStation — which the company said rarely came up with novel improvements — and the acquisition would motivate PlayStation to create more innovations.