Sharpie mishap spills Sony’s Call of Duty revenue data cover image

Sharpie mishap spills Sony’s Call of Duty revenue data

The FTC vs Microsoft hearing has become the source of yet another controversial leak, thanks to Sony’s Call of Duty revenue data being spilled from one of its documents by a poorly used Sharpie.

Microsoft's long-drawn Activision-Blizzard acquisition is turning out to be quite the headache for the company. But it turns out the situation is proving a major headache for Sony too. In what appears to be a major mishap, Sony accidentally spilled confidential Call of Duty revenue data, thanks to a Sharpie of all things.

As part of the hearing, Sony supplied a document from PlayStation chief Jim Ryan. This document, as it turns out contained revenue secrets redacted using a black Sharpie. Unfortunately for Sony, it turns out a simple scan can expose this redacted information. The Verge's Tom Warren reported on the mishap and now we all know how much Sony earns through Call of Duty and other major IPs.

In a follow-up Tweet, Warren reported that it is unclear who redacted the document. As it turns out, Sony is not a party to this case and repeatedly insisted that the court seal/redact any confidential data in documents they provide as evidence. Regardless, it's a pretty significant breach and Sony is sitting atop a mountain of compromised data thanks to it.

Unsurprisingly, Call of Duty is a huge cash cow for Sony

It's no secret that Call of Duty is among the highest-earning franchises in video game history. However, the sheer magnitude of it is enough to blow some minds.

As it turns out, Call of Duty accounted for $800 million in revenue for Sony from players in the US alone in 2021. As per the document, that figure rises to $1.5 billion globally.

Additionally, the document also reveals that around a million players spent 100% of their console play time on just Call of Duty. And at least 14 million PlayStation users spent 30% of their game time playing Call of Duty. It's no surprise then, that Sony's primary concern around Microsoft's Activision-Blizzard deal is the potential Call of Duty gatekeeping it might face.

Sony's first-party titles' production costs also leaked

The document also ended up revealing production costs for some of Sony's major first-party titles. For instance, Horizon: Forbidden West and The Last of Us Part II both cost Sony in excess of $200mn. Horizon Forbidden West took five years to develop and cost $212mn to make. A team of 300 employees worked on the project.

The Last of Us Part II, meanwhile cost $220mn with a team of 200 employees, despite being a last-gen title. The document Sony supplied provides this information as evidence to support their claim that revenues would be heavily impacted if Call of Duty were to become an Xbox exclusive.

The long-drawn saga around Microsoft's Activision-Blizzard takeover is turning out to be a major headache for not just Microsoft but also its competitors. The FTC hearing has been the source of several major data leaks. This includes the potential release period of the next Call of Duty title which is speculated to be Modern Warfare III. Both companies are dealing with major exposes and PR scandals thanks to the hearing and Microsoft's controversial deal.

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