Fans of the series have been hoping for a remaster of such a classic title's campaign for years, and for those on PlayStation 4, that wait is finally over. Those hoping to play the remastered MW2 campaign on PC and Xbox One, however, will have to wait until April 30th for the game to unlock on their own systems. The reason for this timed-exclusivity is a long-running deal with Sony, and it isn't the first time Activision have made such an arrangement for its Call of Duty Series. To help put the latest news into context, here's a breakdown of the major timed-exclusives in the franchise's history and how fans reacted to them.
While Sony is the currently the company that benefits from a Call of Duty exclusives deal, it used to be its chief rival. Way back in 2010, Activision signed a multi-year deal with Microsoft that meant that all Call of Duty add-ons and map packs would come to Xbox Live before its competitors.
This deal, which initially covered the DLC of Call of Duty: Black Ops before extending over multiple other titles, was first struck as an agreement between the two companies over the Modern Warfare 2 Resurgence map pack. This timed exclusivity with one of the biggest game franchises out there was a huge deal for the Xbox 360 and pretty much defined the "console wars" of the time.
The deal continued past the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, applying to Call of Duty: Ghosts in 2013 and Advanced Warfare in 2014. However, Sony's apparent supremacy in the new generation gave the company the clout it needed to gain Call of Duty exclusivity from mid-2015 until the present day.
There have been five major releases in the Call of Duty franchise since it signed the exclusivity deal with Sony, and all have been affected by it in some way. The game that started the deal, Black Ops 3 had all its downloadable content released on PlayStation 4 as timed exclusives. Its sequel, Black Ops 4, did the same, as well as giving PlayStation 4 users sole access to the title's first multiplayer beta weekend.
Likewise, the beta for the future-tech Infinite Warfare also began as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, as did its DLC expansions. While these early PS4-only events were generally only a week or so long, it was at this point that Activision began to increase the length of its timed-exclusives.
In 2017, it was announced that the DLC packs for Call of Duty: WW2, the series' first ever return to its roots in the Second World War, would be available to PS4 players a full month ahead of PC and Xbox One players. Unlike recent exclusivity announcements, however, there was little anger from the community at the time. It seems many Call of Duty fans had accepted timed DLC exclusives as a part of the franchise, and didn't find them particularly unfair.
That attitude all changed with the latest - and some fans might say, most egregious - of Activision's exclusivity deals, currently imposed on Modern Warfare's Spec Ops Survival mode. As the latest title in the Call of Duty series, the soft reboot Modern Warfare has been hailed by many as a return to what made the sub-series great. It was quickly revealed however that the return to the classic series also meant a return to Activision and Sony's exclusivity policies.
Admittedly, the Spec Ops Survival mode isn't a huge deal compared to some of the game-modes and projects attached to Modern Warfare that could have been made exclusive, like Warzone, but what has particularly angered fans is the length of the exclusivity. Spec Ops Survival mode will remain solely available on the PlayStation 4 until October 1st 2020, a full year after its original release. Compounding the issue has been developer Infinity Ward's dismissive response, with Narrative Director Taylor Kurosaki tweeting that there are "decisions that are above all our pay grades that have to be considered."
While it's true that Spec Ops Survival is only one small part of the Spec Ops game-mode, the sheer length of the timed-exclusive is cause for concern among Call of Duty fans. What's worrying many is the idea that the Spec Ops Survival deal may be an experiment of the results of a longer timed-exclusive, and that if those results are financially viable to Activision and Sony, such arrangements may become the norm in the future.
Modern Warfare 2 seems to corroborate this and arguably comes at a bad time, given the sheer number of self-isolating games. Regardless, it'll be interesting to see how this relationship developers over the next few years as the gaming industry moves more toward the next generation of gaming.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is out now for PS4, with a PC and Xbox One version launching on April 30.