Sony concerned that the PS6 will launch without Call of Duty

By Lee Brady,

Sony has stated its concerns that its next-generation console after the PS5, presumably the PS6, will lack Call of Duty support should the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard go ahead.

Sony has raised further qualms with Microsoft's pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, outlining various criticisms it has regarding the deal to the UK Government's regulatory body. One particularly noteworthy excerpt shows Sony responding to the ten-year Call of Duty deal Microsoft offered, with the implication being that the agreement would not secure Call of Duty for the launch of the PlayStation 6.

PS6The PS6 would apparently feel incomplete without Call of Duty.

Sony alludes to PS6 plans only two years after PS5 launch

Released publicly with redacted information by the UK Government, Sony's response contains an argument that the Call of Duty agreement with Microsoft would expire in 2027. This is apparently before Sony plans to release its next-generation console, which we've shorthanded to calling the "PS6," because... well, what else is it going to be called? Sony's argument leans once more on its weak stance that Call of Duty is too big for Sony to whether the absence of, which we've also covered in stories regarding the "network effect" of the deal and Microsoft's belief that there is no "forever" deal with PlayStation and Call of Duty.

Sony's argument reads: "Microsoft has offered to continue making Activision's games available on PlayStation only until 2027. Likewise, in public comments just on October 26, Microsoft said that it plans to offer Call of Duty on PlayStation only 'as long as that makes sense.'" This quote is separate from the somewhat hilarious veiled threat Microsoft made while its Activision Blizzard deal faced increased scrutiny, in which Xbox boss Phil Spencer said: "as long as there's a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we'll continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation."

Phil Spencer — EU investigationXbox still under pressure from the EU and UK regulators regarding this deal.

Sony's argument continues: "A period under 2027 — or some other (possibly shorter) time that Microsoft unilaterally determines "makes sense" to Microsoft — is badly inadequate. By the time SIE launched the next generation of its PlayStation console (which is likely to occur around [REDACTED]), it would have lost access to Call of Duty and other Activision titles, making it extremely vulnerable to customer switching and subsequent degradation in its competitiveness."

For PlayStation users, it's interesting here to see the general lifespan of the current generation console laid bare like this so early in its life cycle. Presuming the PS6 launch is planned at its earliest in 2028, that would put the PS5's shelf life at just over seven years — roughly on par with the seven years the PS4 saw before the next generation arrived, though quite a bit below the ten years of mainline support seen by Sony's PS3.

ps5The PS5 has still half a decade of shelf life to go, seemingly.

Sony's concern about Call of Duty's importance to a console launch is explained by the company's fear that PlayStation can't make a competitor to the franchise: "Even assuming that SIE had the ability and resources to develop a similarly successful franchise to Call of Duty, it would take many, many years and billions of dollars to create a challenge to Call of Duty — and the example of EA's Battlefield shows that any such efforts would more than likely be unsuccessful."

How Sony defines "success" certainly seems debatable, but what's not debatable is just how brutal that Battlefield burn is — way to punch the franchise while it's down. Once again, it is a little disingenuous to hear Sony, right off the back of a success like God of War Ragnarok's launch sales reaching five million in a single week, single out Call of Duty as a strong enough franchise to signal the foreclosure of the PlayStation brand. There are at least six years between now and the earliest release of the PS6 — perhaps if Sony actually tried to make an FPS competitor in that time with the help of its recent acquisition Bungie, it might attain the kind of success of its Halo and Destiny franchises.

bungieSony currently owns one of the biggest competing names in FPS games.

The melodrama around the sale of Call of Duty seems set to continue for some time, but at least we can start to figure out just how late might be too late to pick up one of those 30 million PS5s Sony is manufacturing next year. PS5 Pro kits are rumoured to be in the hands of developers already too, so none of this is taking into account the mid-generation half-steps we're sure to see along the way. Let us know in the comments whether the news of a PS6 is giving you anxiety, and take a look at our best PS5 games list in the meantime if you need a few reasons to convince yourself to focus on the current generation of PlayStation hardware.
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Lee is a Staff Writer specialising in all things PlayStation. He loves talking about classic PS1 and PS2 games on PS Plus, picking apart the game design of new PlayStation Studios releases, and trying to explain his love for Sonic, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. He can also speak Japanese — albiet poorly.