Update: Well, we don't need to speculate any longer! The Verge's Tom Warren has shared a couple of the emails in question, revealing parts of the exchange between Phil Spencer and Jim Ryan from back in mid-2022.
The email from Ryan (dated May 26th, 2022) is extensive, suggesting in his counterproposal that all Activision games should be made available on PlayStation as part of a "lengthy" commitment, as well as the fact that they shouldn't be subject to "unequal treatment in subscription services". He then also references the "equal treatment of Bethesda games", advising this would be a "logical subject for the parties to discuss" as part of a separate agreement.
In response, Xbox boss Phil Spencer had the following to say in August 2022:
"Thanks for your response. As I stated to you in my emails and on our calls, Sony is an important distributor of Activision content, and we would like to find a way to maintain that relationship once we've closed the Activision acquisition.
I continue to stand behind the written agreement I sent you on January 31, 2022 with my signature memorializing our commitment to Sony. The agreement would keep all existing Activision console titles on Sony, including future versions in the Call of Duty franchise or any other current Activision franchise on Sony, through December 31, 2027. That includes content and feature parity, as well as making it clear that we would not feature any timed-exclusive releases of such content on Xbox consoles.
It is hard to align the principles set out in your email of May 26, 2022 with Sony's leading role in the market. As I said before, we believe that keeping these titles on Sony, as we did with Minecraft, is the right thing for the industry and for gamers."
You can take a look at these emails for yourself in the tweets below:
Original story: We've been hearing for a long time now that Sony is heavily opposed to Microsoft's attempted takeover of Activision Blizzard, but according to an old email from January 2022, that didn't originally seem to be the case.
In that email, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan stated that he felt the brand would be "more than OK" after the acquisition went through, and he didn't think that Xbox and Activision would make Call of Duty exclusive.
So, what happened? Ryan explained as part of this week's FTC hearing that it was an email from Xbox boss Phil Spencer in August of 2022 that supposedly "set alarm bells ringing" inside of Sony.
There's no word on what was included in this email, but we do know that Phil Spencer originally reached out to Jim Ryan in May 2022 with a list of games that Xbox would commit to keeping on PlayStation, which promoted Sony to issue a counterproposal. Spencer then responded in August with the email that caused alarm at Sony.
Perhaps we'll find out what was included in that email at some point, but for now, we'll have to play the guessing game. In any case, Sony remains very much against the idea of the takeover - as confirmed by Jim Ryan this week.
"We believe that Microsoft intends to use Call of Duty to disadvantage PlayStation in terms of the availability or the manner in which the game is made available on PlayStation consoles, and to drive PlayStation gamers to the Xbox platforms, specifically Game Pass.”