Microsoft’s ongoing acquisition of Activision Blizzard sent a shock through the video game industry. Activision Blizzard is responsible for major franchises including Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, after all. The potential for these franchises to become exclusive to Xbox devices could change the industry. At least in Call of Duty‘s case, however, changes are unlikely to be made for several more years. That means no Xbox exclusives or day one Game Pass releases until potentially 2025 or 2026.
The report comes from insider and leaker Tom Henderson and specifically pertains to Activision’s partnership with PlayStation regarding Call of Duty. Henderson says he believes that Sony’s deal includes the next three major Call of Duty game releases. Considering Activision’s reported release schedule for its next several Call of Duty games, that would mean that Sony’s contract would end in 2024. As such, it would be 2025, or potentially 2026, before Microsoft had a main series Call of Duty title to even consider launching as an exclusive.
Activision’s release schedule for its next three major Call of Duty games has been heavily reported on. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has already been announced to launch in October later this year. Next, there’s the battle royale reboot Call of Duty: Warzone 2. Warzone 2 won’t be launching alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but is instead believed to be planned for 2023. The third game, Treyarch’s next Call of Duty title, is reported to be breaking the annual Call of Duty release schedule and will instead launch in 2024.
While release schedules can change, especially considering Microsoft is certain to be making some significant changes once the acquisition of Activision Blizzard completes, these tentative plans seem firm. If anything, they’ll be further delayed.
Regardless, it’s easy to understand why Xbox may have to wait before it’s forced to make a decision regarding Call of Duty‘s future. PlayStation’s marketing deal with Activision has led to a variety of exclusive content created just for PS4 and PS5 over the years. It’s certain to be ending, but Microsoft will still fulfill all current contractual obligations.
In January, Xbox boss Phil Spencer committed to Xbox continuing to bring Call of Duty games to PlayStation consoles in the future. PlayStation’s contract will ensure that’s true for the next several years. After that, Spencer will have to reevaluate. Call of Duty games could start launching on Xbox Game Pass day one, or they could become console exclusive to Xbox platforms. A lot can change in three or more years.