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Xbox Shades PlayStation Over Call Of Duty

The console wars are not quite as heated as they were a generation or two ago, but don't be fooled: they're definitely still raging. With fewer brand exclusives being released every year, gamers aren't quite as divided by console lines as they used to be. Somehow, that seems to be causing the console makers themselves to act feistier than ever. In this case, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer joined IGN for an interview over the weekend, during which he excitedly talked about "Call of Duty: Black Ops 6" and made some pretty oblique references to Sony's approach to multiplatform gaming. "We didn't say to anybody 'you have to subscribe to play,'" Spencer said, pointing out that Game Pass isn't required to play the next "Call of Duty." He went on to say, "I want to give you the choice on how you play your games, and who you play with, and not try to do slimy platform things to force you to do what I want you to do."

These are talking points that Spencer has covered many times in the past, but he is also clearly calling out Sony here, which has been repeatedly pushing PC gamers to sign up for the PlayStation Network and is still refusing to let "Helldivers 2" come to Xbox. Spencer's comments come right after an Xbox Showcase that gave us a peek at the latest Xbox consoles and an expanded roster of multiplatform games. In a vacuum, what Spencer is saying sounds like a rallying cry for gamer freedom — but with a little more context, it's been hard for fans not to roll their eyes.

All attention on Call of Duty

This is not the first time that Spencer has talked about the multiplatform future of "Call of Duty." Back in March 2023, he said that exclusive DLC would soon be a thing of the past, as Microsoft planned to bring the game and all of its content to as many players as possible. And of course, Xbox can make these promises because Microsoft now owns Activision Blizzard, the company behind "Call of Duty."

When the acquisition was first announced, regulators in the UK tried to block it. The Federal Trade Commission also sued to block the merger in the United States, arguing that the purchase would give Microsoft monopolistic control over large swaths of the gaming industry. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley waved the acquisition through because Microsoft agreed, in writing, to keep "Call of Duty" in particular equally available on PlayStation and Xbox for 10 years.

In his interview with IGN, Spencer said that keeping "Call of Duty" open to everyone is "great for us, it's great for the developer." He's completely right about everyone benefiting when games aren't exclusive, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that Microsoft is a champion of openness. The company isn't trying to turn all of its games into big, open tents. For instance, doesn't look like we'll be playing "Starfield" on a PlayStation 5 anytime soon. This fact has not been lost on fans, who took to the internet to debate Spencer's comments and Xbox's stance on exclusivity vs. PlayStation.

The internet is torn on Xbox's plan

The fact that Microsoft is going to make "Call of Duty" more available to players on other platforms is great, but it used to be just as hyper-focused on exclusivity as Sony is now — and plenty of people still remember the old Xbox playbook. As a number of gamers have pointed out, Xbox has nabbed console-exclusive DLC on a number of occasions, including with the "Call of Duty" franchise. Some see this new stance as a sign that the current Xbox console generation isn't doing so well, prompting the company to expand its releases to other platforms.

Even if the company is genuinely trying to change now, it does seem a little early for Spencer to be throwing shade at his competitor. Naturally, the internet is taking Spencer's comments in all kinds of ways. Some are celebrating the push for multiplatform gaming, some are very doubtful that Microsoft will keep the multiplatform act up forever,  and others are noting that Xbox has been gradually sliding in this direction for a long time. 

While the internet argues about this latest development, a few people are keeping the most important worry in mind: The fact that a lot of studios have met an untimely end this year, some due to cutbacks at Microsoft.

Spencer claims that Xbox's current approach is good for the company and developers, but some gamers aren't so sure. In the same IGN interview, Spencer went from talking about openness to dodging a question about Tango Gameworks' closure, making gamers doubt just how healthy the company's business plan is in the long run — and question whether Xbox should be throwing any shade on PlayStation just yet.

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