Call of Duty and platform exclusivity have gone hand in hand for nearly a decade at this point, and most fans likely remember a time in the not-too-distant past when PS3 and PC players were forced to wait through an agonizing month-long period before CoD’s DLC would release on their platforms. These heinous, consumer-unfriendly corporate decisions proved exactly where Activision’s priorities were, and it only served to segregate the community, generating an unhealthy atmosphere of brand elitism.
Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII was novel in that, instead of separating releases by an entire month, the gap was shortened to just seven days. It was a major step in the right direction, but Sony’s grip on the series—something they pried from the hands of Microsoft around the dawn of the current console generation—still put a damper on the proceedings.
That said, October’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is set to be the most divisive and damaging in terms of exclusivity. Survival mode, a gameplay option within Modern Warfare’s forthcoming Spec Ops mode, is set to remain a PlayStation 4 exclusive for an entire year. Well, just shy of a year, actually; the reveal trailer indicates (in ultra-small, near-hidden fine print) that, while Survival will be a part of the PS4 package from day one, it will only launch on Xbox One and PC come October 1st, 2020.
This has incited a massive backlash from fans, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a revitalization of the series the likes of which fans have been clamoring for for years, is receiving quite a bit of negative press, a negative change of pace for the previously well-regarded title.
Activision and Infinity Ward reps have been eager to point out that this will only be a small sliver of the content available in the Spec Ops mode and that non-PS4 players shouldn’t feel like they’re missing out on a major pieces of the experience, but it’s nonetheless a scummy, underhanded tactic, especially since it’s been announced well after pre-orders went live on all platforms.
What’s more, this puts a huge damper on crossplay, one of Modern Warfare’s defining features. For the first time, gamers could team up and play together regardless of platform, and, judging by last week’s beta, it worked pretty well. That, however, won’t be the case for those looking to tackle Survival mode, and it’s a baffling decision, as further exclusivity will essentially kill the much-touted feature.
Infinity Ward responds to fan outrage over Survival Mode being exclusive to PS4 in Modern Warfare, says Survival is ‘additional mode’ and ‘we understand’ the disappointment https://t.co/WXdo01NxQN— Call of Duty News (@charlieINTEL) September 25, 2019
In truth, this is a classic example of Activision’s bait-and-switch tactics. Although the Survival mode won’t be available to two thirds of the community for eleven entire months, they’ve scrapped the DLC exclusivity deal with Sony, meaning that everyone will get new content as soon as it comes out. It’s a pick-your-poison affair; we’ve got a universal DLC release date now, but that has come at the cost of an entire gameplay mode.
While this news likely won’t have a drastic impact on the game’s sales—Call of Duty is always one of the year’s highest-selling games—it sets a troubling precedent. What else will be carved from the base game in the name of console exclusivity? Is this something that will be a part of the franchise for years to come? Perhaps the most sinister implication here is that Activision is certainly going to unleash some more outrageous, widely-disliked details in the weeks leading up to release, proving once again that no goodwill shall go unsullied by these massive, avaricious publishers.