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PlayStation’s best-selling series in 2021 could become Xbox exclusive

A soldier holds a rifle in Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Screenshot: Activision

The NPD group released its annual inventory of game sales for 2021 today, pretty much at that second Microsoft announced it would buy mega-publisher Activision Blizzard for approx Luxembourg's GDP. The best-selling console game for 2021 was the same as it is, as it almost is every year: the latest Call of Duty game. Oh, PlayStation.

Yes, Call of Duty: Vanguard, despite only being on sale for the last two months of the year (it was released on November 5), sold out everything else on PlayStation and Xbox. The second best-selling game of 2021? Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War, first released in 2020. As of today - yes, once the $ 68.7 billion deal is approved by regulators - Call of Duty the series will be a first-party intellectual property owned by Microsoft.

This is clearly not entirely good news for PlayStation, which could lose some of its best-selling third-party games in no time. So far, Microsoft has not specified which platforms future Activision-released games, including Call of Duty, could release on, gives Axios GamingStephen Totilo the sharply vague statement that the company's "games exist on a variety of platforms today and we plan to continue to support these communities in the future." Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Kotaku.

But the company's second recent acquisition may indicate what Microsoft has in store for its new financial luminaires. In 2020, when Microsoft bought Zenimax, Bethesda's parent company - responsible for a large portfolio of game series, including The older ones roll, Exchange, The disgrace, Fall out, and more - at a staggering $ 7.5 billion at the time, it certainly sounded like Xbox exclusivity was off the table, and that the sale was perhaps more of a boon to Microsoft's Game Pass service than a damage to PlayStation. Here's what Xbox boss Phil Spencer is said at the time:

This deal was not made to take games away from another player base that way. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together did it say, 'How do we prevent other players from playing these games?' We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to play games. But I also want to say in the model - I just answer directly to the question you had - when I think about where people should play and the number of devices we had and we have xCloud and PC and games Pass and our console base, I do not have to post these games on any platform other than the platforms we support, in order to somehow make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.

Now it seems safe: Xbox is chasing exclusivity with these games.

The first game released under the new deal, Arkane's immersive sim, Deathloop, actually complied with exclusivity agreements that were previously in place and will be released on PlayStation 5 and PC by October. (That agreement expires after one year.) But Arkane's next big game, the co-op vampire shooter Redness, is for Xbox and PC only. As it is Bethesda's coming, and eagerly awaited, Starfield, for which Bethesda bigwig Pete Hines is so sad.

Could the same thing happen for Call of Duty? It's unclear right now, but you can not rule it out.

Taber Call of Duty would be a huge blow to PlayStation's ledger, but it's not the only card topper on the platform. According to NPD data, here are this year's top 10 best selling games across all consoles:

  1. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War
  3. Madden NFL 22
  4. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and shiny pearl
  5. Battlefield 2042
  6. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  7. Mario Kart 8
  8. Resident Evil Village
  9. MLB The Show: 21
  10. Super Mario 3D World

Specifically for PlayStation ...

  1. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  2. Madden NFL 22
  3. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War
  4. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  5. MLB The Show 21
  6. Battlefield 2042
  7. FIFA 22
  8. The ghost of Tsushima
  9. Resident Evil Village
  10. Far Cry 6

For Xbox ...

  1. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War
  3. Madden NFL 22
  4. Battlefield 2042
  5. Far Cry 6
  6. Forza Horizon 5
  7. Halo infinite
  8. Assassin's Creed Valhalla
  9. FIFA 22
  10. Call of Duty modern warfare

And finally for Nintendo, as you will notice, consists almost exclusively of first-party games ...

  1. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and shiny pearl
  2. Mario Kart 8
  3. Super Mario 3D World
  4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  6. Monster Hunter: Rise
  7. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  8. Mario Party Superstars
  9. Pokémon Sword and Shield
  10. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

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