Will Call of Duty still be on PS4 and PS5 when Xbox buys Activision?

Call of Duty
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Will Call of Duty stay on PlayStation (PS4, PS5) if Microsoft buys Activision for Xbox?

Microsoft is buying Activision-Blizzard-King, who creates Call of Duty. This has led some to wonder if the game would become exclusive to Xbox, ditching PlayStation in the process. Thankfully, that isn't going to be the case.

Will CoD stay on PlayStation consoles? The answer is yes. Microsoft has entered into a legally-binding 10-year agreement with PlayStation to keep Call of Duty active on PS4 and PS5. The agreement is specific to Call of Duty, and should ensure the game retains parity with the Xbox Series S|X versions of the game. However, there are a few unanswered questions detailed below. 

Call of Duty will stay on PS4 and PS5

Per a tweet from Xbox head Phil Spencer, the firm announced that Microsoft and Sony PlayStation have signed a legally-binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on all the relevant consoles in perpetuity. 

Call of Duty is one of the world's biggest franchises. The legendary shooter has enjoyed a strong run on PlayStation, particularly so after Microsoft lost the marketing rights to the game during the Xbox One era. Call of Duty runs into the billions of dollars on PlayStation, and it simply doesn't make financial business sense to pull it from the console. 

There was some speculation about what might happen with Call of Duty. During the Xbox vs. FTC trials recently, Sony PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said they would feel compelled to withhold dev kits from Microsoft to prevent the firm from learning PlayStation's future-facing hardware secrets, like that of the PlayStation 6. However, it seems the two console giants have come to a formal agreement that will keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for at least the next decade. After that date, contracts would need to be renegotiated, but it stands to reason that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation even after that date, given how big it is, and how much money it makes for both Sony and the franchise. 

But what about Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus Premium?

One question that currently remains is how this agreement impacts subscription services. Sony argued during the FTC vs. Xbox trial that including Call of Duty exclusively in Xbox Game Pass puts PlayStation at a disadvantage, since users on PS4 and PS5 would have to pay the $70 premium to get access. On Xbox Game Pass, users would need to pay at minimum $10 to get access to the game, since it's a monthly subscription service that includes all Microsoft-owned content day one. 

Previously, Microsoft had mentioned that it would be willing to bring Call of Duty to the PlayStation Plus Premium content library. However, since Microsoft won its court cases against the FTC, there could be no real leverage left for PlayStation to require or request this of Microsoft. The full details of the agreement will likely remain under wraps until we start seeing Call of Duty emerge after the deal fully closes, which could be in the coming weeks from the date of writing this piece. 

Some court documents had suggested that Call of Duty currently has a contractual exclusion against services like Xbox Game Pass in place until at least 2025, so it could be that in the short term, there will be no changes whatsoever to how Call of Duty is distributed between the two consoles. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!