In an interview with IGN, former PlayStation U.S. boss Jack Tretton talked about possible Call of Duty Xbox/PC exclusivity once Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. The former exec said he didn't think that was at all likely, which makes sense for him to say, but he's wrong. In this article, we'll explain why an ex PlayStation boss is wrong about Call of Duty Xbox exclusivity.
Sony and Microsoft Are Very Different Companies
Microsoft and Sony are very different companies, even if PlayStation and Xbox are competitors. For Sony, buying a big, successful publisher and then making all its games exclusive doesn't make any sense. Sony, right now, is focused on one PS5, one device, while the games market encompasses mobile, PC, and two current-gen Xboxes.
Sony's already got a huge roster of flagship first-party games they have developed explicitly to get gamers to buy a PlayStation, so the idea that Sony would buy a massive studio like Bungie and force it to make exclusive games for PlayStation to get people to buy PlayStations doesn't make a lot of sense.
The Sony world already has studios for that, and it doesn't seem likely that massive games will get people to buy more PlayStations than they would make money existing on a variety of platforms, so it just doesn't make sense. This is why former U.S. PlayStation chief jack Trenton said he didn't think it would be likely for Microsoft to make Call of Duty exclusive.
Microsoft, however, is a massively different company. Microsoft doesn't just have Xbox, it's got PC, and outside of just Xbox and PC, it has Game Pass, which is Microsoft's primary way of delivering games to consumers across platforms. More than anything else, Microsoft wants Game Pass subscribers, whether they've got a phone, an Xbox, or a PC.
Accordingly, making a major franchise like Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox and PC and offering the games on Game Pass would be a major incentive for gamers to become Game Pass subscribers. Maybe they wouldn't all buy Xboxes, and likely some PlayStation fans will simply stop playing Call of Duty if that happens, but Microsoft can get a huge boost to Game Pass subscriptions to make them money far into the future by making Call of Duty exclusive to their platforms and accessible on Game Pass.
Sony has recently announced an overhaul to PlayStation Plus to style the service more as a competitor to Game Pass, but PS Plus is much less full-featured than Game Pass and it's ultimately less of a focus for Sony as a company, so it doesn't work the same for Sony as it does Microsoft.
Exclusivity Could Be Good for Call of Duty
If Call of Duty were to go exclusive to Microsoft platforms like Xbox and Windows, it's very unlikely PlayStation would lose many customers. Of the Call of Duty fans on PlayStation, very few of them are likely to sell their PlayStations for an Xbox to play Call of Duty.
Plus, even if the latest Call of Duty doesn't come to PS5, it'll still come to Xbox Series S and X alongside PC, and maybe it'll even be playable on other devices over Xbox's streaming service. There probably aren't many die-hard Call of Duty fans that must play only on PlayStation.
And if Call of Duty only has to come, in the future, to Xbox and PC, that's a lot fewer platforms than Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC. Bringing the games to fewer platforms would inevitably cut down on the bugs and glitches that plague modern Call of Duty games.
Plus, Call of Duty on fewer platforms means no more exclusive content locked to a certain platform or a split playerbase distributed across platforms. Call of Duty on PC is a very small minority of the playerbase, so PC players inevitably rely on crossplay. Without PlayStation where players can opt out of crossplay, all Call of Duty players will inevitably be playing together.
Then, with Call of Duty firmly ensconced within the Microsoft ecosystem, Call of Duty wouldn't have to be structured to make the most money possible, it could instead then be structured as a first-party series built to be the best and most impressive it could possibly be to drive Game Pass subscriptions.
With fewer platforms to support and less pressure put on the bottom line in terms of game sales, the Call of Duty development roster of studios could crunch less and push out fewer games that feel like they need more time in the oven, like the last three major Call of Duty games felt like.