Some surprising news today. Call of Duty could be coming to Nintendo Switch — in fact, it could be staying there. A deal has just been reached with Nintendo for the Switch, and any future consoles afterward, to receive the latest Call of Duty games for the next ten years. (This is not a finalized deal and depends on one technicality, which we’ll get to in a paragraph or two.)
What makes this announcement so striking is that it seems to come from out of nowhere. Activision has snubbed Nintendo for years and years. The last time they let a Call of Duty grace a Nintendo console was Ghosts on the Wii U, and when that naturally underperformed, the company stayed far away, even when everyone and their dog bought a Switch. There has been a strong enough userbase to support a CoD title now for quite some time. So why wait until THIS moment?
Because there’s an underlying motive. It isn’t Activision making the decision to bring Call of Duty to Switch. It’s Microsoft, who is trying to buy Activision — but US regulators are holding up the deal, citing anti-trust concerns. So this is Microsoft saying “No, no, we wouldn’t keep one of the most popular gaming franchises on one console! We’re even putting it on Switch, see?”
Would this deal exist otherwise? Probably not.
The bigger question is if a modern Call of Duty game can RUN on a Switch and Microsoft probably hasn’t thought that far ahead. It would take a lot of compromises to get next year’s ray-traced, super-shiny title onto that aging hardware. Assuming this even happens, we’re in for a cut-down, buggy, graphically ugly mess, OR a “cloud” version you can never truly own because it is beamed to you from a server that will eventually go offline.
Hardcore CoD enthusiasts will probably stick with XBox. Or with PC, since Microsoft has offered the same ten-year deal to Steam.