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What happens to Call of Duty now that Microsoft owns Activision Blizzard?

Will you have to buy an Xbox to play Call of Duty in the future?

xbox activision blizzard merge
Image: Microsoft

UPDATE 1/26/2022 9:25 AM ET: Sources close to the matter have confirmed that the company will still release at least the next three Call of Duty games on PlayStation consoles. Read more here. The original story follows below.

Earlier this week, Microsoft surprised the gaming world with its announcement of the largest acquisition in the history of gaming. The Xbox creators announced their plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, the creators of ridiculously popular franchises like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, for a staggering $68.7 billion.

As you would imagine, this announcement caught a lot of people by surprise. Activision Blizzard has had a tumultuous year of toxic workplace allegations, but nobody really saw an acquisition like this coming.

One of the biggest questions that have been raised after the announcement is what will happen to the Call of Duty franchise? Call of Duty has been a staple FPS game across both Xbox and PlayStation for decades at this point.

But Microsoft hasn’t been shy about converting franchises to Xbox exclusives after acquisitions. Is that what’s going to happen with Call of Duty? Here’s what we know so far.

Will Call of Duty become an Xbox exclusive?

call of duty warzone dropping in
Image: Activision

One important thing to note is that this is just the announcement of the acquisition. Microsoft has projected that the acquisition is likely going to close sometime in 2023. Until then, Activision Blizzard will operate like normal, and we shouldn’t expect any major shifts in Call of Duty’s plans.

As always, the franchise is expected to release a new game in the fall of 2022. Current speculation says that this year’s game will be a follow-up to 2019’s Modern Warfare that will feature a major Warzone update.

But what happens when the deal finally goes through? Unfortunately, all we can do right now is speculate. But, this isn’t the first time that Microsoft has acquired a major gaming company, so we can look at some of the things the company has done in the past.

First, let’s look at the Bethesda acquisition that Microsoft completed at the end of 2020. It initially looked like Microsoft was going to avoid the exclusivity route with Bethesda’s games, but a later interview with Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed that at least some of the company’s franchises, like The Elder Scrolls and the new IP Starfield, would most likely be released as exclusives.

READ MORE: Sony doesn’t expect to lose Call of Duty after Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition

But, Microsoft has also gone the complete opposite route with other acquisitions. The company acquired Mojang, creators of Minecraft, way back in 2014. When it comes to that game, the company has kept it available on as many platforms as possible, likely helping it to become one of the most popular games in the world.

We can’t imagine the COD franchise becoming an Xbox exclusive

From what we’ve seen in the past, it looks like Microsoft looks at exclusivity on a case-by-case basis. The company has opted to go for exclusives in some franchises but it has kept others on other platforms for years.

In my opinion, the Call of Duty franchise is much closer to Minecraft than any of Microsoft’s other franchises in terms of popularity and notoriety. For that reason, I would be incredibly surprised if we saw the company convert Call of Duty to an Xbox exclusive franchise.

Microsoft would simply lose out on too many potential players for the franchise that has been available across consoles for generations. But, the company has surprised us in the past and it could definitely surprise us again. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when the acquisition is actually finalized next year.

UPDATE 1/26/2022 9:25 AM ET: Sources close to the matter have confirmed that the company will still release at least the next three Call of Duty games on PlayStation consoles. Read more here.

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