Call of Duty may not run on Switch according to UK regulators

Microsoft recently negotiated a ten-year legally binding agreement with Nintendo to bring the popular shooter to the Switch.

Microsoft has been having a hard time convincing anti-trust regulators that the deal with Activision Blizzard benefits video game players. Recently, the tech giant made a play to bring Call of Duty to the Nintendo Switch, to show regulators that it does not intend to make the title exclusive to its own platform. However, the CMA doubts that the Switch is even capable of running the game.

The UK CMA believes the Switch will not be powerful enough to run a modern Call of Duty title.

UK’s Consumer Market Authority, the country’s anti-trust regulatory body, says that the handheld console is not capable of running a current generation Call of Duty game. This is another potential stumbling block for Microsoft’s bid to have its landmark acquisition of Activision Blizzard approved.

Call of Duty has been central to the regulator’s opposition to the merger. The CMA argues that Microsoft will gain an unfair advantage should it take control of Activision and its popular first-person shooter franchise.

Sony, the most vocal opposition to the deal, voiced its concern that Microsoft plans to make Call of Duty exclusive to PC and Xbox once Activision’s current obligations to the PlayStation maker expire. The current deal between Sony and Activision is only until the end of 2024.

Microsoft has offered a ten-year deal to Sony, Nintendo, and Steam.

Microsoft has since offered a deal to Sony to retain its access to the Call of Duty series for ten years in a bid to convince anti-trust regulators. The Xbox maker also extended an offer to Nintendo and Steam to bring the popular shooter franchise to their platforms for the same length of time.

Both Nintendo and Steam have agreed to the deal with Microsoft. Sony, on the other hand, refuses to budge.

Microsoft promised to deliver Call of Duty titles to Sony, Steam, and Nintendo consoles on the same day as the Xbox. The company further clarified that equal access means "ten years of parity. On content. On pricing. On features. On quality. On playability." This means that players will see no discernable difference between the versions of Call of Duty on all platforms.

Steam’s handheld console can undoubtedly run a modern Call of Duty title. The Steam Deck is powered by AMD quad-core processors and runs AMD RDNA 2 GPUs. The hardware and graphics card of the Steam handheld is comparable to a home console such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

The CMA says that the Switch has hardware limitations.

Microsoft guarantees that the current generation Switch can run Call of Duty games as well, but the UK CMA believes otherwise.

The CMA’s provisional findings state, at paragraph 7.63, that "the Nintendo Switch [...] may not be capable of offering certain graphically intensive multiplayer games (such as COD)" due to hardware limitations. The regulatory body believes that Activision will have a hard time replicating the same user experience to other current-generation platforms. The report also mentions the Switch’s small storage capacity as a problem.

In the past, Activision has resorted to downgrading the graphics of Call of Duty: Black Ops III for it to run on an older Xbox 360. The game had awful graphics on the Xbox 360 when compared to the version on the more powerful Xbox One.

The CMA is likely aware of Activision’s past performance when dealing with older-generation hardware. The Nintendo Switch will be celebrating its sixth birthday in a few days and is running on dated components.

It will be hard to imagine the small 7-watt Quad-core ARM Cortex-A57 CPU of the Switch running a current generation Call of Duty title that is 100GB in size. To be fair, the storage capacity of the Switch can be extended to 2TB, but that is using an external micro-SD.

Microsoft may opt to offer a cloud-based game to get around the hardware issue.

Hello Games successfully ported the full version of its popular space exploration game No Man’s Sky over to the Switch. However, it came with huge graphical downgrades in framerates and resolution. The game also does not have the multiplayer mode found in other versions of the game.

Microsoft may opt to use a cloud-based solution to offer a full version of Call of Duty on the Switch. Gamers may be able to stream the game online, which would be less demanding on the hardware.

Perhaps Microsoft knows something we don’t. Microsoft may be privy to information regarding a more powerful version of the Nintendo Switch.

Darryl Lara

Darryl has been gaming since the early 90s, loves to read books and watch TV. He spends his free time outside of gaming and books by riding his motorcycle and taking photographs. You can find Darryl on Instagram. Check him out on Steam and Xbox too.
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