When Call of Duty was conspicuously absent from Microsoft’s E3 2015 Media Briefing, the rumor people around the Galen Center that morning were spreading seemed to be confirmed true: Sony had taken the mantle of Call of Duty timed exclusivity away from their largest competition. This was confirmed when Activision took the stage later that day at the Sony E3 Press Conference to showcase some of the first real footage of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, with Sony Computer Entertainment of America boss Andrew House calling PlayStation the “new home for Call of Duty.”
But what does this mean for Xbox, the console that has been synonymous for the past five years with the world’s number one shooter?
According to Xbox themselves, Call of Duty timed exclusivity switching to Sony means nothing. In a quote to Eurogamer, Microsoft Exec Kudo Tsunoda stated that the Call of Duty shift “doesn’t change anything.”
“Call of Duty is still coming out on Xbox One this year,” Tsunoda stated.
However, this could be a big shift in how Microsoft sells their console, a shift that was evident this year at E3 as opposed to last year’s message. Last year at E3 2014, Microsoft’s message was clear: play new content on Xbox One first. Every game they showcased had some timed exclusivity involved, from Dragon Age: Inquisition to Evolve and finally Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This year, the message was “the greatest lineup in Xbox history,” one that only sported a single third-party exclusive, the rest first-party titles.
Call of Duty has always been a cornerstone for any platform’s fall lineup, but the added bonus that everything came first to Xbox helped to definitely define the console as the home of Call of Duty. When you look at any major Call of Duty eSports event, the game is being played on Xbox consoles. With PlayStation 4 sales soaring above the competition, as well as the added power that the console gives developers over the Xbox One, moving to PlayStation 4 is a no brainer for Activision, especially with the Destiny deal in place.
Xbox execs are banking on that strong line-up to bolster sales and hopefully make up for the fact that their rival now has the timed exclusivity deal with Call of Duty. And it could very well work. In terms of first party content, Sony really has nothing coming out this fall that can rival Halo 5: Guardians or even Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.Call of Duty, and the enticing prospect that finally Sony fans won’t be waiting for new content for Black Ops 3 and beyond are the cornerstones of Sony’s lineup.
Xbox One owners don’t have reason to fret — yet. But to lose the world’s biggest shooter franchise is a huge blow to the console, and hopefully Microsoft has a way to counter. Otherwise, Call of Duty may not be the only third-party timed exclusive partner to jump ship next time around.
[Image via Activision]