Call of Duty is one of the most iconic franchises in gaming. The series has been running since 2003, when its very first instalment launched for the seventh console generation, but things didn’t really kick off for Call of Duty until 2007’s Modern Warfare. With a strong story campaign and legendarily addictive multiplayer, Modern Warfare cemented Call of Duty’s reputation as the premier first-person shooter series for many gamers, and that’s a reputation that continues to this day.
Now, however, there’s something of a question mark hanging over Call of Duty’s future. Microsoft has put in an offer to buy Call of Duty parent company Activision Blizzard, and Sony is worried that Call of Duty won’t be available on PlayStation anymore as a result, or that Microsoft could easily rescind PlayStation gamers’ access to the game. Microsoft has assured Sony this is not the case, but Sony doesn’t seem to be going for Microsoft’s proposed deals. A new survey, though, has shown why Call of Duty must remain on PlayStation.
According to a study conducted by a very popular VPN provider, Call of Duty is the most popular franchise for both male and female gamers. ExpressVPN’s study, which was all about how much time gamers spent gaming, found that the most popular gaming franchises among men were Call of Duty, FIFA, and God of War, with Call of Duty out in front by far. Call of Duty also tops the list for women, with The Sims and Minecraft coming in second and third place, respectively.
That data should show you why Call of Duty needs to remain on the PlayStation, but if you need further convincing, consider that ExpressVPN also found 61% of gamers use consoles to play games. When we factor in the fact that the PlayStation 5 is far ahead of the Xbox Series X/S in terms of sales, it should be obvious that the home of console gaming, at least for many gamers, is the PS5. That’s why Call of Duty needs to remain on the PlayStation!
In the ExpressVPN study, many male gamers reported that they played games to “connect with [their] friends”. Call of Duty’s popularity makes a lot of sense in this light; since the game is primarily focused around multiplayer (it does have a single-player campaign, but many gamers don’t consider this to be the primary draw for the franchise), it’s easy to get into games with your buddies and dominate multiplayer alongside your trusty team.
Interestingly, fewer women seem to prioritise making or maintaining friendships as a primary reason for playing video games. The ExpressVPN study doesn’t specifically point to a reason for Call of Duty’s popularity among women, but we can speculate; since the game is popular and more and more women are entering the gaming space, it stands to reason that women would want to check out the game that’s been dominating that space for many years.
According to Microsoft, the answer to this question is no. The company says it’s reached out to Sony to try and secure a deal for Call of Duty on PlayStation for the next ten years, but it seems that no proposed form of this deal has been good enough for the Japanese company yet. Sony is likely baulking at the idea of Microsoft being able to essentially change or remove contract terms as it sees fit, and while that might not be the legal reality, it’s clearly enough to get Sony spooked.
Recently, Microsoft signed a legally binding deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo hardware. Between that, and the fact that – according to the ExpressVPN study – 70% of gaming is done on mobile phones these days, Microsoft obviously thinks it would be foolhardy not to bring Call of Duty to other platforms. Convincing Sony that this doesn’t constitute a monopoly, however, is obviously going to be difficult for Microsoft.
In our opinion, Call of Duty’s future would be safe on PlayStation if Sony signed the deal. However, we understand Sony’s reticence to a certain degree. After all, Sony can sign the contract with Microsoft, but it’s up to Microsoft to honour the terms of that contract. After the ten years are up, Microsoft could choose to do anything with Call of Duty, including restricting it to the Microsoft ecosystem, which is what Sony is most afraid of. It seems Sony wants a more concrete reassurance that Microsoft won’t let it down on this front.
Right now, the future is bright for Call of Duty. Modern Warfare 2 has shown an extremely strong sales performance, and the game’s second season is underway, with promises for the third season very soon. Warzone 2.0 has also launched to a fairly strong reception, and Call of Duty Mobile continues to perform well in the mobile gaming space, although it’s facing stiff competition from other games like PUBG Mobile and Clash of Clans.
So, where does Call of Duty go next? With PS VR2 on the horizon, will Activision Blizzard be tempted to move into the VR space with its iconic shooter franchise? We’re not so sure. ExpressVPN’s findings show that only 9% of gamers enjoy games on VR platforms, so Activision Blizzard probably doesn’t think it’s worth its while to bring the series to VR. Still, it could happen. Watch this space.