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Call of Duty is the Digital Download Nemesis

Posted February 25, 2021 | Activision | Call of Duty | Games | Playstation | Project Xcloud | Windows | Xbox | Xbox Series S | Xbox Series X

Earlier today, Activision released the second major update for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Warzone, its annual cash-printing title that brings in billions of dollars for the company. This update clocks in around 17 GB, depending on the platform, for Warzone and up to 26.5GB for Cold War. But for the first time, Activision is warning PlayStation 4 users that this update may be too large for their hardware.

Keep in mind that these updates are for two different games that can be installed independently but many gamers likely refer to them in the same breath. Cold War is the more traditional online multiplayer title that has been around for many years whereas Warzone is a separate game but this is the Battle Royal iteration for the brand.

It’s not that complicated but the way the game presents these titles is that they are more like ‘modes’ than separate titles. The point I am trying to make here is that many gamers likely have both titles installed at the same time – if you like Call of Duty, there is a good chance you will like both versions of the game.

And having both games installed is a problem for some devices. Specifically, in this release, Activision says that PlayStation 4 users with the 500GB drive will not be able to install all features of the game as they will run out of storage space. There are workarounds but running out of storage is going to be a problem going forward for many, including those who have purchased an Xbox Series S.

While Microsoft does offer expandable storage for the series S, the included drive is only 500GB but the free space is 364GB. On my Series X, I have both titles installed and it comes out to about 373GB, granted that is with all textures installed but it proves the point that Call of Duty can own your entire internal drive, even on higher-end consoles.

This narrative isn’t new but the reality is that this problem is only getting worse and unless you are willing to fork out another couple hundred dollars for an expandable drive (especially with the series S), your options are limited – you can currently uninstall features of Cold War to also free up space if you do not play them.

But what is really missing here, at least for Xbox users, is Cloud Streaming. Because the next-gen Xbox consoles do not currently support this feature, which works well on Android (and soon iOS/desktop), Microsoft could offer another option to let you stream games to your console and let you free up more storage space.

As an example, I have Ori installed, you can stream this game using Cloud Gaming on mobile devices without any issue, why wouldn’t that work on my console? Streaming Call of Duty games may not be as easy, typically FPS titles are more latency-sensitive, but at least you would have the option to do this and put off buying the expensive external storage drive for games that can benefit from this functionality.

I do think Microsoft will bring this functionality to the console at some point but for today, storage on both the S and X and PlayStation consoles will remain an evergreen challenge.

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