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Reaction: PS4 Looks Poised to Play Second Fiddle in the Call of Duty War

Posted by Sammy Barker

Console combat

Love it or loathe it, Call of Duty is an important cog in any console’s catalogue. The series may have peaked in popularity with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, but last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 still managed to rake in a cool $1 billion in just 15 days on the market – an impressive sum for a series that’s supposedly on the dip. As such, regardless of whether it manages to break the records of its predecessors, the just-announced Call of Duty: Ghosts is almost certain to be one of the biggest games of the year. So, it’s problematic for Sony that Microsoft appears to have dibs on the title for the time being.

We’re not privy to any of the behind-the-scenes negotiations, of course, but the fact that the first footage of the title is set to debut during Microsoft’s event sends a pretty big message. The flush manufacturer has a history of positioning itself alongside the first-person franchise, having secured timed exclusive map packs and advertising bumpers for the previous four Call of Duty titles. That trend is almost certain to continue well into the next generation, which could prove to be a big blow to the PlayStation 4.

Merely securing the first footage of the title at its own reveal event is a smart move by the Redmond-based organisation. Thus far, the build up to the firm’s impending announcement party has been somewhat tepid, with the company’s dreary invites and quiet commentary failing to whip up the same frenzy as Sony’s shock ‘See the Future’ trailer. Its cosy relationship with Call of Duty, however, will add an extra layer to the event’s importance, with viewers not only tuning into see the next Xbox, but also the next Call of Duty, too.

And as far as the mainstream media’s concerned, it’s that big name that’s going to matter most. Sony may have brought a robust offering of internal titles to its own press conference, but Killzone or inFAMOUS will never carry the same clout as a series that‘s frequently topping the software charts. Microsoft may be struggling with its own first-party department, but all that it really needs to do is convince the market that it will offer the natural home for Call of Duty and it will win plenty of mindshare among casual consumers and fans of the franchise.

The real worry for Sony, though, is that such mindshare snowballs. Early adopters picking up a console this Christmas will influence the purchasing habits of their friends in 2014, and while it’s a good thing that the PS4’s actually going to be around to compete this time, a few smart third-party partnerships could quite easily undermine all of the platform holder’s strides. Architectural improvements and accommodating publication practices may appeal to enthusiasts, but the mainstream market is unlikely to care for such improvements, with most casual consumers likely to favour the format that feels like the natural home for the Call of Duty games.

We suppose that the silver-lining for Sony is that the first-person franchise has always sold well on the PlayStation 3, irrespective of exclusivity arrangements. The Xbox 360 has certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of the series’ sales, but there’s perhaps more to the franchise’s success on the system than cross-marketing deals. The cost of the console, for example – which has been consistently cheaper than the PS3 – may have contributed to the property establishing such a strong install base on Microsoft’s machine. These are details that are still yet to be shared for the next generation, and if the PS4 can somehow undercut its unannounced counterpart, it may not matter if the hardware has access to additional content and map packs a month in advance.

But it’s still a headache. We already know that Sony’s system will boast exclusive content for Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and Destiny, so it seems clear that the platform holder is willing to play Microsoft at its own game. However, it’s hard to underestimate the importance of the Call of Duty franchise, which has repeatedly established itself as one of the biggest brands in the entertainment sector. There’s still a long road ahead before the next generation systems arrive, but Xbox’s ongoing alignment with the blockbuster series will almost certainly pit the PS4 against a steep incline.

Do you think that Call of Duty will continue to prove a strong coup for Microsoft moving into the next generation? What do you think that Sony can do to counter the series’ association with the Xbox brand? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (23)



3Above said:

Its not the end of the world. After all we saw the first footage of Destiny at Sony's event but I don't get the feeling that its that big of a deal like it bodes badly for MS that Bungie showed it at the PlayStation meeting first. Its true that MS has an established relationship with Activision and the CoD franchise but im not loosing any sleep over it.



get2sammyb said:

@3Above I think the difference is that Destiny is not a proven franchise. You're absolutely right that it could (and, honestly, probably will be) huge — but the average consumer buying a console this Christmas doesn't know what Destiny is yet.



3Above said:

@get2sammyb Thats true. But in that case ' the emperor has already won.' The average consumer is already used to associating CoD with the Xbox brand. A few exclusive dlc maps wont change that. And I dont see Sony being able to secure much more than that.



3Above said:

Take for example Final Fantasy and Resident Evil. They have both gone multiplatform but the majority still buy those titles on PlayStation because of the legacy of those franchises being on that console. At this point we have roughly 6 years of CoD being ' better ' on Xbox. Im not sure that will ever change in the minds of the masses.



charlesnarles said:

As long as Sony responds with the MGS series being exclusive, then I don't see the problem.



Jaz007 said:

What's really ironic is that Sony's free online would be much better for casuals who want to play some COD than then Xbox's paid online. PS seems to have Battlefield on freindly terms so they will have that trick to play on the casual in return.



hYdeks said:

People still care about Call of Duty? What a sad world we live in shakes head in disgust



jaydb1982 said:

Call of duty is now as bland as the yearly FIFA updates. I enjoyed MW1, 2 & BO but its boring now so its no big deal if Microsoft use it as the only way it'll force its hardware into consumers home. With sony still having Battlefield, Killzone, Destiny and many new shooters coming to their next gen I prefer the competition.



Visiblemode said:

It's going to be basically the same experience on every format as it always is. This debut thing is of little consequence and if MS doesn't smarten up no outside of the core gaming community will even know this conference took place.



Stuffgamer1 said:

I suppose this may be of some small concern for the Call of Doodoo crowd...but that crowd mostly doesn't buy a whole lot of other games anyway, so why should I care? So far as I'm concerned, it really only further cements the view of PlayStation as a more "serious" gamer's machine and Xbox as the casual frat-boy platform. That kind of stigma will probably prove to be a problem for Microsoft going into a new console, as it really wasn't as developed when 360 came out and they sold a lot of units to people who now know better, myself included.



rijahs said:

I am really surprised with a move like this from COD... If they go exclusive with XBox then won't it reduce the sales for them? I am 100% sure that it will/can never match the sales figure of both the machines combined together. Given the expense of developing a game these days, this is a real mad move from their side. If Sony can make a PS4 release with a couple of excellent games before Christmas this year, especially some multiplayer games, then its game on.



bauckster said:

I really just don't care at all about Call of Duty, and can't imagine this will be such a big deal, for all the reasons stated above. It just makes Xbox seem even more bland to me, like the series itself. But I know I have a general bias against most military shooters (with the exception of Spec Ops which is almost a deconstruction of the genre)



Jaz007 said:

@rijahs COD isn't going exclusive, they are just showing the first footage of the game at the Xbox 720 reveal event. It will be on PS3 and PS4 too.



Squiggle55 said:

I wonder how much Microsoft pays for this kind of stuff. Anyways, like you mention in the article, I think the primarily important thing is who sells the most consoles this holiday season bc of the snowball effect. I agree that it will mostly come down to price and whether or not Microsoft does anything stupid with being always online or blocking used games. My prediction is this generation will be close. PS4 will keep things tighter and maybe even beat Microsoft.



thebluelight1 said:

I don't really see PS4 playing "second fiddle", more like "fourth fiddle". The vast majority of CoD players are fairly casual in my opinion, every year they by CoD, FIFA/Madden and maybe a couple of other big games, these aren't the sort of people who buy a console at launch, the main platforms for the new CoD are still X360/PS3,



ViciousDS said:

@Squiggle55 hell, ps3 is now only 1 million units off of the xbox 360 in sales, i mean if they both launch same time, this time around. Sony and their own development studios bringing a good lineup could easily push the PS4 past the 720.



artemisthemp said:

Those surprised by Microsoft getting Timed Exclusive DLC... ... ... Ok another shocker for you CoD: Ghost will sell well, even though, it's graphics still look like doodoo and gameplay is the same as last CoD game.

Unless Microsoft in some magical way, manage to capture the Japanese market... Well not a real threat to Sony



rjejr said:

Cheer up Sammy, it could be worse, you could be worried about the WiiU news the past few days - no big E3 presentation, no Madden. Even w/ the 1 year lag I think the PS4 will bypass the WiiU. No way the WiiU trounces the other 2 like the Wii did. So that's less competition in the world for the PS4 this gen to begin with.

Don't ask me to cheer you up about the Vita though, you're on your own there.



Slapshot said:

Personally, I could care less - I've not touched neither Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. For the PS4, this could indeed dampen its sales in the West.



FullbringIchigo said:

thing is CoD is one of those franchises that you just think Xbox for it's like Final Fantasy that name makes you think PlayStation even though it's on multiple systems

still it's going to be on PS4 anyway, what does it matter if the next xbox gets some crappy DLC a month before us, we can still play the game if we want to



Giygas_95 said:

Not too interested in any more of these, but I love playing zombies online with my brother. I'm guessing this one won't have zombies though since it's going to be made by Infinity Ward.

Speaking of ghosts, I hope Ubisoft makes a new Ghost Recon sometime soon. I loved Future Soldier.

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