Most consoles eventually come to be associated with a genre or style. Whether by luck or design, Microsoft’s Xbox has practically cornered the shooter market with franchises such as Halo, Gears of War, and now, thanks to the Activision Blizzard deal, Call of Duty. That isn’t to say the PlayStation library is utterly devoid of first and third-person shooters, but thanks to recent developments, the platform’s already slim pickings are looking even thinner.
When Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard, numerous titles officially joined the Xbox family. Some, like Gabriel Knight and Guitar Hero, have been in hibernation for years, while others, such as Call of Duty, are among the most lucrative games on the market. Now that Microsoft owns that iconic shooter series, many gamers are worried it will become an Xbox/Windows exclusive. Microsoft says that they intend to honor existing contracts with rival platforms, so Call of Duty: Warzone fans won’t suddenly lose PlayStation support overnight, but the keyword in that arrangement is existing contracts. How many Call of Duty games have already been promised for PlayStation? Even if subsequent entries are released on rival consoles, who’s to say Xbox owners won’t get preferential treatment? We may be looking at a future where PlayStation owners need to look elsewhere for their FPS fix, and a future where one of the perennial bestsellers on PlayStation becomes exclusive to Xbox in some way.
While PlayStation can probably rely on games such Apex Legends and Battlefield for the foreseeable future (at least once Battlefield 2042 fixes its problems), there’s really no way around it: Sony needs its own Call of Duty, or, better yet, a Call of Duty killer just in case the worst possible scenario happens. It’s a daunting task, but they do have a few exciting options.
PlayStation Could Let Guerilla Games, Insomniac, or One of Its First-Party Studios Start a New FPS Franchise
While Microsoft has gobbled up quite a few noteworthy studios, including Ninja Theory and ZeniMax Media, Sony hasn’t exactly been twiddling its thumbs. Quite a few great developers fly the PlayStation banner, and many of them boast some kind of shooter experience.
One prospect that seemingly leads the way is Guerrilla Games. Before the company wowed audiences with Horizon Zero Dawn, it tried to compete against Microsoft — specifically Halo — with the Killzone series. While the first entry was somewhat bland, the developers took stock of their mistakes and produced a superior sequel. In fact, Killzone 2 was the must-play shooter for the PlayStation 3 and actually gave Halo a run for its money.
While Sony (sadly) doesn’t seem interested in a new Killzone, Guerrilla Games could develop a Call of Duty, or even Halo, rival if they were given the freedom and resources to do so. Given the reception of Horizon Zero Dawn and the anticipation surrounding Horizon Forbidden West, Guerilla certainly has the clout needed to give it a fair shot.
Another Sony-owned studio with a stellar shooter track record is Insomniac Games. Long before the studio produced the award-winning Marvel’s Spider-Man, it won gamers over with Ratchet & Clank: a series best known for its blend of platforming and third-person shooter action. Insomniac also tried its hand at a proper FPS series with Resistance: Fall of Man, and while the first two entries in that franchise were kinda rough, the studio arguably hit its stride with the third Resistance game. Between Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, and the studio’s other cult classic action title, Sunset Overdrive, Insomniac potentially has what it takes to give the PlayStation the multiplayer shooter it may soon need.
While plenty of other studios could help create a Call of Duty-esque experience, those two have to be near the top of the list. Although, given the number of Sony-owned franchises that have fallen by the wayside, maybe a bit of nostalgia could give a potential Call of Duty killer a leg up…
PlayStation Could Always Revive, or Repurpose, a Series And Turn it Into a Multiplayer Blockbuster
The game industry is, unfortunately, hesitant when it comes to new properties. Why should a publisher risk time and money on an untested idea when it can fund a sequel or reboot to an old title and let nostalgia drive marketing and sales? Given the number of games audiences fondly remember but are no longer in circulation, that strategy could help get a potential Call of Duty rival off the ground.
As we’ve previously mentioned, Sony has several multiplayer-oriented shooters in cold storage ripe for revival (with Resistance and Killzone being near the top of that list). While those games didn’t exactly live up to the hype upon release, many players still love them and are eager for sequels.
More importantly, there are developers out there who are eager to make those sequels. While Insomniac Games has its hands full with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and Marvel’s Wolverine, another Sony-owned company, Bend Studios, once floated an idea for a Resistance revival. The always outspoken director of Days Gone, Jeff Ross, was pitching ideas and was running through Sony IPs when he suggested an open-world Resistance game. While Sony shot that idea down, that meeting took place when PlayStation fans (and investors) could still rely on Call of Duty. Now that the CoD series is firmly in Microsoft’s pocket, Sony might be more receptive to a new Resistance title.
Of course, Sony doesn’t have to rely on its own IPs to resurrect and repurpose a beloved series associated with PlayStation. For instance, Armored Core is a beloved mech simulator that lets players customize giant, weaponized robots and pilot them in large-scale battles. While the franchise’s developer, FromSoftware, has been busy making a name for themselves with Sekiro, Elden Ring, and the Soulsborne titles, rumors suggest that a potential Armored Core 6 project is in development. If the leaks have any veracity, then Sony might have found a somewhat unlikely answer to their potential Call of Duty problem (assuming Sony can solidify an exclusivity deal). After all, Armored Core spent most of its life on PlayStation consoles, and Sony learned from its mistake of not publishing Demon’s Souls in the West. FromSoftware’s name alone will likely sell countless copies of Armored Core 6, so if Sony can nail that PlayStation 5 exclusivity, they could use the series to give Call of Duty a little multiplayer competition. Who doesn’t love piloting giant robots with enough firepower to level a city?
There’s also The Last of Us. While The Last of Us‘ multiplayer mode wasn’t a mainstream hit, it is considered to be one of the most unique and enjoyable multiplayer modes of the last 15 years. With Naughty Dog reportedly working on a standalone Last of Us multiplayer project, you have to believe that PlayStation is more interested than ever in trying to use The Last of Us name to reach the mainstream multiplayer community.
With Call of Duty‘s future availability up in the air, the only fact PlayStation can really count on is that Microsoft now ultimately controls one of gaming’s biggest earners. Should that company decide it doesn’t want to share anymore, Sony will need a rival game to win over audiences, feed their need for competitive shooters, and help make up for the revenue they’ll lose if they lose one of their platforms’ biggest sellers. The question is, “Can anyone in the PlayStation Studios family find a way to finally dethrone Call of Duty?”