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PlayStation doesn’t NEED Call of Duty

In all the debates around Microsoft’s purchase of Activision, one has been the most frequent. How is PlayStation going to cope without Call of Duty? Should they have to? Is it fair?


It’s been a while since we last looked at the Activision purchase. That’s mostly because a fat lot of nothing has happened. Decisions have been delayed, as you’d expect from a purchase of this size. A decision will still be made by the end of this financial year, and all signs point to the inevitability of this deal going through. Yes, there are hurdles. But Microsoft has more money than God.

More importantly, there aren’t really a mountain of reasons why the Activision purchase shouldn’t go through. Even with Activision added to their roster, Xbox still won’t be bringing in the most money in the games industry. Even then, they’ll still be behind in console sales. The job of regulators is to prevent monopolies and stop situations where it’s impossible for other companies to compete. Neither of those criteria has been met. Allowing big companies to buy up smaller companies that represent X percent of their rival’s income isn’t good precedent, so it needs to be looked at. But ultimately, this isn’t the end of Sony.

And that’s the crux of all this. Sony doesn’t need Call of Duty. Sure, they’ve created a system where third parties provide special treatment – the “PlayStation Advantage”. But as a business model, that is flawed. As an idea it’s flawed, and it’s completely outlasted its welcome.

Call of Duty and the PlayStation Advantage

It’s been the way Sony has operated since the 90s. PlayStation is THE place to play the best games day and date. And that’s a reputation – whether accurate or not, you can debate amongst yourselves – that has cost a lot of money.

Want to play Final Fantasy? Don’t go to Nintendo, go to PlayStation. Grand Theft Auto? Resident Evil? Silent Hill? Metal Gear Solid? PlayStation.

And Call of Duty is another titan in that long, and ever-expanding list.

But inevitably, someone was going to come along and try to disrupt that. Maybe we didn’t expect it to be the company that had been in the industry for twenty years already, but someone was bound to try.

During the PS3 era, this backfired slightly. Many third-parties were better on the 360, and some developers were downright rude about PlayStation.

It was a mistake Sony learned from, paired with Microsoft’s own mistakes that generation.

They pushed first-party content, becoming a juggernaut for top quality third-person action games.

And now it’s possible they may need to push it further. They don’t need Call of Duty, but they need something – more games, better-selling games, different games. Something that can plug the gap if Call of Duty goes. Hoping beyond hope that Microsoft become legally bound to provide Call of Duty is not a business strategy.

Luckily, they probably already have plans to move forward, regardless of decisions from regulators. PlayStation don’t need Call of Duty, but they need something.

And they have managed to deliver before.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott