As Activision is preparing the launch of yet another Call of Duty game, PlayStation executives are likely fretting over the future of first-person shooters on the platform. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is said to be all but finished, and this could mean that Sony’s console will lose the best-selling shooter franchise in the industry. The Japanese gaming giant needs to come up with a plan to survive the transition if indeed Call of Duty is no longer on PlayStation in the future.

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Activision Blizzard and Microsoft have inked the deal already, and are waiting only for ratification by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other countries’ authorities. The acceptance by the competition authorities is in Microsoft’s view a done deal, but we might have to wait until next summer for it to be official. If Microsoft follows up with turning Call of Duty and other Activision franchises into Xbox exclusives, Sony is going to face significant issues in attracting shooter fans and consequently racking up profits.

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The Importance of Call of Duty

For many, the Call of Duty franchise is the epitome of a first-person shooter, especially on the consoles. It’s a common denominator that brings together PC and console gamers, regardless of their allegiance to a specific platform. The box office is where the rubber meets the road for Sony. Call of Duty is by far the best-selling shooter franchise ever to be conceived. Even the less-than-optimally performing Call of Duty games are massive on any other scale. To scratch the top 10 best-selling Call of Duty titles, the game needs at least 15 million copies sold.

As Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is set to launch with the battle royale game Call of Duty: Warzone 2 to follow shortly after, the hype is at an all-time high. Even though it sounds like Activision might not release another Call of Duty next year, the franchise is not slowing down; instead, it is doing quite the opposite. The original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the most popular title in the franchise at the time of its release in 2009, and the buzz seems to be back. Next in line could be another Black Ops title which could prove even more successful, especially considering how they’ve performed in previous installations.

Sony would not only miss out on all that commission income from Call of Duty‘s PlayStation versions, but it would lose visibility among gamers. It’s like losing foot traffic in a traditional store. When the marketplace can’t offer one of the most important products on the market, the losses compound with other missed sales.

How Sony Could Remedy Missing Call of Duty

While it’s not at all certain that Microsoft will pull Activision’s brands, or Call of Duty in particular, off the competing platforms, Sony has to come to terms with the possibility. There are still plenty of great multi-platform franchises, like EA’s Apex Legends and Battlefield, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six, 2K’s Borderlands, and so on. However, the scales would have tipped too much in Xbox’s favor with Call of Duty — not to mention that Activision Blizzard also has Overwatch — that simply relying on other third-party offerings won’t suffice.

Sony has to empower its studios to compete with Microsoft’s exclusives, and the elephant in the room is Bungie. Earlier this year, Sony announced the acquisition of Bungie in a massive $3.6 billion buyout. Both of these companies agreed at the time that this wouldn’t affect the platform availability of Bungie’s titles, like Destiny 2. In fact, they assured that this deal would make Sony more multi-platform-facing. However, in a world with exclusive Call of Duty, Sony’s view on the matter would likely change.

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Sony’s other shooter titles might have to step it up, too. Guerrilla Games’ Horizon series has been massive for PlayStation, but it doesn’t compete with the likes of Call of Duty. Even with Horizon‘s potential multiplayer spinoff, it’s hard to see it as the solution. Furthermore, Horizon‘s pedigree is important in a different way, and it shouldn’t be tarnished by trying to make it fit a different mold. One option would be to bring back Killzone. This would obviously require a lot from Guerilla Games, assuming that it’d be responsible for both.

An underappreciated shooter franchise from the PlayStation 3 era, Resistance would be a welcome addition to the PS5. Insomniac Games’ Resistance: Fall of Man featured robust multiplayer online for up to 40 people and offline for couch co-op gameplay. Unfortunately, after three installments on the PS3, Insomniac hasn’t pursued it, except for the PlayStation Portable. The recent Spider-Man games have been massive for Insomniac and Sony, but it might be necessary for the studio to go back to the good old first-person shooters.

In addition to reviving in-house franchises, perhaps further investments and acquisitions might be necessary to remedy the situation. There are amazing multi-platform first-person shooters that just haven’t gotten the attention of Call of Duty. Unfortunately for Sony, even ZeniMax with its id Software titles was already bought by Microsoft, so Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein are out of the question.

One game that could be acquirable, and has had similar success to Call of Duty, is PUBG: Battlegrounds. At this point, PUBG is only a battle royale title, but it could offer a broader first-person shooter experience. However, it would need a lot of tender love and care due to the fact that Krafton’s PUBG lore is pretty obscure compared to the genre-defining gameplay. Putting a greater spotlight on the story would be necessary for a single-player campaign but would also build up a robust non-survival-based multiplayer experience.

Sony’s choices are limited, but it has to look at what options there are. For the PlayStation gamers that love first-person shooters, losing Call of Duty would not be good even with the revival of some of Sony’s beloved franchises.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 launches October 28 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

MORE: Underrated Call of Duty Features That Are Worth Bringing Back

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