A new report from well-known Call of Duty insider Tom Henderson says that Call of Duty 2021—reportedly Call of Duty: WWII Vanguard—will be “held back so bad” by last-gen consoles. Additionally, Henderson claims that Infinity Ward’s next Call of Duty game in 2022, rumored to be a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare, will also come to PS4 and Xbox One, presumably facing the same challenges of being “held back” by the last-gen platforms.
WW2 Vanguard is going to be held back so bad by previous generation consoles, and from my understanding they are planning previous gen for both Vangaurd and IW’s next title. pic.twitter.com/PmokyHP0BU
— Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) April 18, 2021
Every console cycle, there is a period of overlap for a few years where games will release for both previous-gen and new consoles. This is partially caused by developers learning the new tech, but it’s also in large part a profit-driven move. After all, the last-gen consoles have a much larger install base at the outset of the new consoles’ release, which can take some time to catch up as consumers shift over to the newer hardware. However, this also inherently means developers aren’t taking unique advantage of the new technologies available, in an effort to keep their games working on older platforms as well.
The report that three Call of Duty premium games (including 2020’s Black Ops Cold War) will be cross-gen releases isn’t surprising. In 2012, Activision and Infinity Ward released Call of Duty: Ghosts on both the PS3/Xbox 360 consoles, and the brand new PS4/Xbox One consoles. It followed with cross-gen releases for the next two years, launching Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III on both generations as well. It wasn’t until 2016’s Infinite Warfare that they finally dropped the PS3 and Xbox 360, making them exclusive to the PS4 and Xbox One generation platforms.
With cross-play across platforms and generations, backwards compatibility on newer consoles, and the Warzone component, Activision is unlikely to want to leave out any part of that enormous audience. In fact, the free-to-play Warzone, which boasts over 65 million players and recently celebrated its one year milestone, has yet to get a proper next-generation update. Players on next-gen consoles are still playing the PS4/Xbox One version of the game via backwards compatibility.
Henderson’s reports aren’t all that surprising, but rather confirmation of what is pretty obvious already. What’s unclear is if his “held back so bad” part of his comment comes from insider knowledge, or just a general common sense that games can’t fully evolve if forced to comply with the hardware restrictions of last-gen consoles.
Still, it’s impressive what developers have been able to squeeze out of the end of the PS4 and Xbox One’s life cycles. 2019’s Modern Warfare reboot included a whole new engine that we described as “next-gen before next-gen.” It’s also confirmed to adapt nicely to new-gen consoles, which bodes well considering both WWII Vanguard and Modern Warfare 2 are both reported to be running on that engine (Black Ops Cold War was built on a different engine).
What do you think of games being “held back” by last-gen consoles? Would you prefer developers limit potential sales and profits in order to target next-gen only? Don’t be held back by the ads on the way to the comments below to let us know.