It is no secret that the call of duty franchise is one of the most popular and high-profile IPs across the entire gaming industry. Establishing itself as one of the most played first-person shooters over the course of almost two decades, COD has been a mainstay of the online console experience for some time.
This longstanding console presence of call of duty was recently brought into question thanks to the extremely high-profile purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. While both Xbox and PlayStation have been very vocal regarding the potential implications that this may have on the franchise’s platform availability in the future, the fact remains that COD would be extremely difficult to replace for PlayStation should it eventually lose its access to the franchise.
The Microsoft Acquisition of Activision Blizzard
Microsoft has been very forthright in its recent foray into expanding the amount of development and publishing studios that come under its ownership. With Xbox consoles losing out on several exclusive titles over the last few years, it is clear that Microsoft is using its unprecedented spending power to fight back against this criticism.
Despite already owning massive studios such as Mojang and even Bethesda, Microsoft set an industry record with its massive purchase of Activision Blizzard in January of this year. It is widely reported that the acquisition of Activision cost Microsoft almost $69 billion, smashing any previous studio acquisition purchase prices that have ever been made. While the deal has not yet been formally completed, it is widely expected to be finalized soon, meaning Microsoft would hold ownership of franchise’s such as Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft, Overwatch, and of course Call of Duty. While these games currently remain as multiple-platform franchises, PlayStation in particular has voiced its concerns over potentially losing the massive first-person shooter franchise, and the negative financial implications it could have for the company
PlayStation’s Response To the Activision Deal
It can be said that PlayStation is the main competitor of Xbox in the gaming industry, with the two companies dominating large swathes of the console landscape. When considering this, as well as the fact call of duty is one of the most popular and high-engagement franchises in existence, many were not surprised that PlayStation has taken a very vocal stance against the Activision purchase.
PlayStation’s representatives have argued that the call of duty franchise coming under the Xbox name could have serious financial implications, in that more and more fans may be tempted to switch over to Xbox from PlayStation. As well as the worry of potentially losing the franchise entirely, PlayStation also appears to be concerned over the role that Microsoft’s massively successful Xbox Game Pass service could now play in Call of Duty’s future.
With the current contractual benefits that Sony receives from the call of duty franchise set to end in 2024, it is more than likely that COD titles will eventually become available as day one releases via Xbox Game Pass, providing a huge attractive benefit to Xbox ownership from a call of duty perspective. In response to concerns raised by Sony, Xbox head Phil Spencer wrote an open letter outlining Xbox’s plans for call of duty moving forward, stressing the fact that Xbox is still committed to making gaming for everyone, regardless of platform choice.
In the letter, Phil Spencer assured PlayStation that service will essentially continue as normal for three years after the end of Sony’s current COD contract, meaning that things should remain more or less the same until at least 2027. That being said, there is still a lingering worry from a PlayStation perspective as to what changes may be made after this specified date. With it being more than likely that Xbox will begin receiving exclusive benefits and expansions as well as Game Pass presence for call of dutythere is still a considerable probability that the massive franchise may eventually no longer feature on PlayStation as a platform.
Why Call of Duty Would Be Irreplaceable for PlayStation
It is hard to overstate the highly lucrative success and popularity of the call of duty franchise. With its addictive online multiplayer often being complimented by intriguing and unique campaigns and tertiary modes, the longstanding annual releases of COD titles makes for a constant stream of revenue and game traffic. For example, Activision recently reported that it sold 25 million call of duty copies in a single year, with single franchise installments such as black ops historically selling upwards of 30 million copies alone.
While these sales will wane as seen recently with the comparatively disappointing sales of Call of Duty: Vanguard, COD as a franchise consistently commands huge amounts of player retention. This success has only been exacerbated with the recent massive popularity of Call of Duty: Warzonewhich is a free-to-play battle royale under the COD name.
The first Warzone reached player counts of 60 million just a few months after its 2020 launch, with many expecting that the upcoming Warzone 2 will have just as much buzz surrounding it upon its November release date. While it may still be in Xbox’s favor to maintain the wide scope of call of duty availability for the near future, the worrying possibility of PlayStation losing out on the franchise would create a gulf in revenue and console popularity that would be almost impossible to replace, given the prestige and pull of the popular shooters titles.
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