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Call of Duty will no longer do exclusivity deals, says Phil Spencer

Remember, no exclusive.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art for Sledgehammer Games' Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023), showing Captain Price.

Now that it owns Activision Blizzard and, by extension, Call of Duty, Microsoft plans to do away with the shooter's exclusivity deals.

On the newest episode of the Official Xbox podcast, gaming head Phil Spencer said the shooter will have "100 percent parity" across all systems. "I don’t want you to feel like there’s content you’re missing out on [...] that’s not the goal."

Call of Duty has bounced between different deals for Xbox and PlayStation over the years. Xbox had timed exclusivity to DLC maps from 2010 to 2012, and then PlayStation struck a similar (and ongoing) deal in 2015, with added timed exclusivity to online betas, in-game skins, and multiplayer modes.

Both companies heavily touted these timed windows in the marketing for specific games and their consoles. As the world's biggest shooter, Call of Duty has helped dictate what console audiences will buy, making Microsoft's anti-exclusivity stance a game changer.

"We have no goal of somehow trying to use Call of Duty to get you to buy an Xbox console," Spencer continued. Citing the PlayStation's recent timed exclusive beta access for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, he admitted it "[doesn't] help the community, I don’t think that helps the game."

"For Call of Duty players on PlayStation, and in the future, I want you to feel 100 percent a part of the community," he continued. 

In the months before Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard, Sony's chief concern was that it would make Call of Duty an Xbox-exclusive franchise. Numerous times, Microsoft asserted that it had no desire (or reason) for that to happen. 

To further prove its point, Microsoft struck various deals ensuring future games would be released on Nintendo and other platforms for the next ten years. Sony initially refused a similar offer, but the two companies later entered a binding agreement to keep the franchise on PlayStation.

Sony's current exclusive (and lucrative) deal for Call of Duty will end with the franchise's 2024 installment.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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