Microsoft president Brad Smith is as unsure as anyone when it comes to predicting what console gaming might look like in 10 years.
In a press conference related to Microsoft's Activision buyout, Smith was asked whether any potential deals securing Call of Duty on other platforms for 10 years might ultimately be renewed. Smith gave a sensible, albeit unsatisfying, response explaining why it's impossible to answer a question like that given the ever-changing landscape of console gaming technology - not to mention internal business structures. "There may be someone else standing here in 2033," Smith admitted.
"Now, none of us can actually predict what exactly will be the form factor that is most prevalent in gaming a decade from now. Will consoles still play the role that they play, whether it be phones, it all be in some Metaverse something or other. Who knows."
Specifically, Smith is referring to two newly announced deals: one that puts Call of Duty on Nintendo consoles for 10 years, and another that bring all of Microsoft's games to Xbox Game Pass competitor GeForce Now, also for 10 years. And yet, even with these massive commitments, it remains very unclear whether regulators will approve the deal. An ongoing lawsuit from the US Federal Trade Commission alleges the deal would "enable Microsoft to suppress competitors," and UK regulator have similar concerns.
In its defense, Microsoft has repeatedly cited Sony's dominating performance in the video game market. Today, Smith said, "we understand in some ways it can be tempting when you have an 80% share [to hope you can] hold on as long as possible," asserting, "I don't think that's what regulators are in the business of doing."