As conversations between Microsoft and Sony around Call of Duty exclusivity seemingly heat up, one game that has long been caught between the two is arriving on both PS Plus Extra and Xbox Game Pass: Deathloop. Now, it should be noted that what happens behind the scenes is really no one’s business save the two competitors, and there are certainly some differences between Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda and the pending Activision Blizzard. That doesn’t make the timing much better, though.

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As many know, Bethesda had a few exclusivity deals with Sony ahead of its acquisition by Microsoft. Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo were one-year PlayStation console exclusives, and when Microsoft announced the acquisition, it also confirmed it would honor these deals with Sony. So, despite Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo being Bethesda (and thus Microsoft) properties, they’ve only been playable on PS5. Deathloop‘s one-year anniversary just passed, and so the game is releasing on Xbox Game Pass on September 20 (technically, a day one release too). It’s also arriving on PS Plus Extra.

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Its appearance on both services is interesting. The greater context here is that Sony is heavily contesting Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, because Microsoft will have control over the Call of Duty IP. Call of Duty is a juggernaut in the industry, so this makes some sense, but recently Sony stated that Microsoft’s CoD offer to keep the series on both platforms was inadequate. 3 years is said to have been Microsoft’s offer, while Microsoft previously stated several years. Microsoft says its offer is incredibly uncommon in the industry, while also saying making Call of Duty exclusive would not be profitable. That’s also ignoring how Call of Duty has bounced back between PlayStation and Xbox exclusive content for years now, with PS being the current dominant brand, even if this would be more final straw territory. There’s a lot of back and forth here, perhaps even more behind doors, and it’s hard to keep up with.

Some have stated that Sony is making a big deal of this acquisition not because it would or could lose Call of Duty, but because Microsoft’s advantage with Xbox Game Pass would be monumental. Call of Duty may be on both platforms, but fans would be looking at $60-$70 per CoD title on PS5 and free via Game Pass on Xbox. That offer alone is enough to sell consoles.

And Deathloop, while not directly tied to this, offers some interesting insight by joining both PS Plus Extra and Game Pass on the same day. Whatever happened behind the scenes there is hard to imagine, but Deathloop hadn’t joined PS Plus Extra before. And, while Deathloop was confirmed for Xbox Game Pass with extra content like new weapons, enemies, and an extended enemy, it’s also been confirmed that this content is coming to PlayStation on the same day too where PS Plus subscribers are able to get the game and content, much like Xbox Game Pass.

The PS5 and Xbox Series X Competition Isn’t One-Sided Like PS4 and Xbox One

It’s hard to say for sure how this plays into the ongoing debates, but Deathloop could very well be a case study in this specific kind of release. That’s not to say Call of Duty would end up on both PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass, but this highlights the competition Sony is bringing to Microsoft with this catalog model. Sony didn’t intend to do so once, but it’s clear how much Game Pass has changed the industry.

Sony believes it’ll take years to catch up to Xbox Game Pass, and maybe that’s one point that can be proven here, but another is Microsoft’s general attitude and approach. Instead of pulling its weight and making the Deathloop content exclusive to its platform, which it could in theory, it’s allowing the updates on both consoles, day one. Something very similar happened with Bugsnax, and so it doesn’t seem Microsoft intends to keep content—which some way indubitably turns a profit for it—restricted to its platform.

Now, some will be, but that’s been the name of the game for years. Sony prides itself on its premium exclusives on its premium console, and Microsoft struggled to keep up with first-party titles throughout the Xbox One generation. That seems to be changing with the number of studios under Microsoft now and the number of games it is said to be releasing in 2023 and beyond.

Exclusivity isn’t the debate here then, at least not without some doublespeak. Content here may not be the issue, as Deathloop and other Game Pass titles seem to prove. But, perhaps underlying it all is that Microsoft is shaping up to be a much stronger competitor than it had been in the previous gen. Call of Duty is at the heart of this debate, but actions like Deathloop on these services may add invaluable context in the coming months and years.

Deathloop is available now on PC and PS5, and it will release for Xbox Series X/S on September 20, 2022.

MORE: PS Plus Free and Premium Games for October 2022 Wish List



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